Mayor discusses Quinnipiac Ave. work

Friday, September 26, 2008 6:46 AM EDT
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — With work on the Ferry Street bridge completed, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. told Quinnipiac Avenue area residents Thursday night that work can proceed on improving that road.

But there are still several holdups on the project, including budgeting and land acquisitions, and DeStefano said there is no firm timeline for when work could begin.

The cost for reconstruction of the road from about Clifton Street to Judith Terrace is currently $9.2 million. In addition, initial talks with Buckeye Pipeline have put the cost of relocating a pipe on Quinnipiac at $1.8 million.

The state Department of Transportation is continuing work to acquire portions of 69 properties in order to proceed with the work. DeStefano said he hopes that will be completed next year, but it could take until 2010.

In order to speed up the process, he said, the city could split the project into two phases. The first phase would cover most of the avenue, from Clifton to Lenox Street, and the second would cover the rest of Quinnipiac once funding becomes available.

“I think it makes sense to split it into phase one and phase two,” DeStefano said.

He also addressed the issue of the Grand Avenue bridge, which he said will need work in the next few years. He said he is hoping to start initial design work on the bridge next year to get a sense of the repairs needed, but construction most likely would not start until 2011 at the earliest.

“The bridge needs work, and I’d rather learn from Ferry Street and do it on our schedule, rather than its — the bridge’s — schedule,” he said, referring to the fact that the city had to declare the Ferry Street bridge unsafe and close it in 2002.

Christopher Ozyck, a Quinnipiac Avenue resident who attended the meeting, said he is worried that “rumors” about the Grand Avenue bridge closing could scare off people looking to invest in the neighborhood. Addressing the Quinnipiac project, he said he does not think the right-of-way acquisitions should hold up the work. “I’m unhappy with the process,” he said. “It seems like it’s putting the whole project in jeopardy.”

Carolyn Chistmann, another neighborhood resident who recently wrote to DeStefano about the work, said that she has been frustrated by the shifting dates for the project.

“I hear the optimistic solution and that’s encouraging, except not when we look at what we’ve been told through the years,” she said, noting that earlier projections had work starting in 2007, and later in August 2009.

“Suddenly we’re told that its best-case scenario construction starting in 2010,” she said

Several people said that the heavy and fast traffic on the road and some blighted properties that make sidewalks impassable have created a need for an immediate solution.

After listening to residents’ questions and concerns for almost two hours, DeStefano said his staff will look into a number of issues and report back to the group. He tentatively set Oct. 23 for another meeting.

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