Takeaways from CTDOT Complete Streets Panel, Oct 25th

On Wednesday, October 25th in Hartford there was a positive and productive Complete Streets conversation with AARP Connecticut, the Connecticut Department of Transportation, Smart Growth America, Transport Hartford, legislators, and community leaders. If you missed this panel, you can watch the CT-N video here.

The three speakers were:

  • Dustin Robertson of Smart Growth America: Dustin dove into the importance of Complete Streets policies. He explained that truly exceptional policies name specific exceptions, as applicable, leaving no wiggle room for interpretation later.
  • Mark Moriarty, Director of New Britain Public Works: Mark delivered a wide-ranging presentation that only glossed over New Britain’s impressive evolution from their first sharrows in 2011, to their decision in 2012 to invest in complete streets, to building the infrastructure for smart development in a cohesive and redesigned downtown that’s “built for people,” not cars.
  • Luke Buttenwieser, City of Stamford Vision Zero: Spoke about Stamford’s Vision Zero program and their efforts to eliminate serious roadway fatalities by 2032. He noted that state-owned arterials are where the most pedestrian deaths occur.

The panelists consisted of the above speakers with the addition of:

  • State Representative Kate Farrar
  • State Senator Christine Cohen
  • CTDOT Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto

Commissioner Eucalitto implemented new and important Complete Streets Design Criteria this year which are applicable to all state DOT projects. This is a big win for accessible and safe transportation for all users in Connecticut. Of note, he stated that exceptions to the design criteria are hard to obtain because approvals are at a senior level within CTDOT. When asked why state roads are the most dangerous in Connecticut and what can be done to fix them, he in part emphasized that communities are encouraged to reach out and work directly with CTDOT. Advocacy of local governments is vital, as well as community support and a willingness to change. Stamford and New Britain were highlighted as communities that have been good about this.

This brings us to the Bishops Corner redesign in West Hartford (State DOT Project 0155-0176) which is currently back to the drawing board. The design shown to the public in July did not incorporate all of the Complete Streets elements of the new CTDOT directive. It is unclear at this stage whether CTDOT plans to implement their Complete Streets design criteria in the Bishops Corner project.

Bike West Hartford calls on community members and West Hartford leaders to step up and contact CTDOT about this important project, and to request adherence to the new CTDOT Complete Streets directive. Public input on the redesign is a must before this project receives final design approval.

Thank you to the speakers, panelists, and organizers!