Getting the New Britain-to-Hartford busway, or CTfastrak, past little Flower Street in Hartford is one of the most difficult engineering challenges in constructing the dedicated right-of-way, and one of the most controversial.
Neighborhood organizations, residents, bicyclists and others say the loss of this two-block north-south street that connects Farmington and Capitol avenues will cause more traffic congestion, impede pedestrian circulation and make bicycling more dangerous in the area.
Flower Street adjoins the back of The Courant building and our main parking lot, and the newspaper and the state Department of Transportation have reached an agreement on the project. The issue is with neighbors as well as workers at Aetna and The Hartford who walk to businesses on Capitol Avenue or elsewhere.
The road now has a gated railroad crossing, with about a dozen trains a day. Once the busway and new high-speed rail service start in the next three or four years, the number of trains will more than double, and there'll be a bus every three to five minutes in rush hour.
Building an overpass at the crossing would be prohibitively expensive if it is possible at all, because the elevated portion of I-84 is adjacent to the crossing.
Improving transportation in the city should not come at the expense of traffic circulation. But given the peculiar challenge at Flower Street, the DOT should commit to two things. The first is to do everything possible — including getting ideas from residents — to keep the passage open for walkers and bikers, possibly by using a switchback footbridge.
The second is to commit to reopening the street if and when the Hub of Hartford project to remove the elevated portion of I-84 is realized.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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