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The Voice of Reason

Metro Hartford "Master Plan"

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I wanted to post this to strike up some conversation. I am going to edit what I wrote and add a bunch more stuff.

Take what the city has today, or in some cases does not have. Think about what you would change. What should the city work towards as an eventual goal in the long term. If you were to create a master plan, or even another 6 pillars or whatever what would you suggest. and then well lets discuss.

it has been a slow news month.

For my money and time and effort, I would make a point to work towards a "prettier more livable city"

this pretty much starts and ends with the river(s) and Parks.

Transportation being the life blood of any city would be extremely important. The long term changes I set fourth are nothing new to us, and they would be the largest project in terms of time and money, but would serve my primary goals very well. The way I see this happening is that the city and state and county come to an accord regarding the principle goal and the ideal way to fix it. I am no traffic engineer, but I am a logical person. I see a map and I think the lines on it should be moved slightly to make the city much nicer, and make transportation much smoother. the funding would come in pieces, slowly and the projects themselves might be piecemeal, but the eventual layout should I'm my mind be as follows.

Removal of I-91 from the CT riverfront.

This would be done by re-routing the Highway over a re-done and expanded Charter Oak Bridge. It would travel through East Hartford,then cross the river over a new bridge that linked back up with the current I-91 near the dump, north of Jennings road.

Most of these "right of ways" are in place so this would only need funding, and the acquisition of a few small industrial parcels. Funding that might take a while but if a solid plan were set fourth would eventually happen.

The previous location of I-91 would be used for an "at grade" street, expansion of the linear park along the river, and new riverfront construction.

Between Bulkeley and Founders the road would be where Charles St. is now, allowing for maximum park land. The only possible developable lot would be that small lot on Talcott and Columbus next to the Market St. garage. This lot is currently covered in highway ramps that would go away with I-91 being re-routed. This street would also have on street parking along its entire length giving maximum access to the park. This parking would also keep the street slower and less of a cut through.

This new configuration would maintain the Jennings road exit North of the city and even make it more functional by hooking into the at grade river side road. This would improve access to the city from the north. The new I-91 would hook into I-84, Rt-2, 44, and 15(East River Dr.) in East Hartford creating better access to E Hartford, parts East, and the city center by way of both Bridges. The riverfront road would rejoin I-91 Where 15 and 91 split now.

This would over all make I-91 a much better connector for the city of Hartford allowing for more commuters to get in and out of Hartford.

Re routing I-84 is another piece of trouble all together. Ideally I would like to reconnect 44 to Hartford and put the Bulkeley back into the street grid.

I know it is cost prohibitive, but I would love to see I-84 go under ground in East Hartford and travel underground to somewhere near Aetna or Sisson Ave exit. This would make through traffic much more efficient and it would put the commuters into the street grid in nearly equal ways. From the East, most drivers get off I-84 at Founders Bridge. Nothing would change there, except that there would also be the option of getting off and entering the city over the Bulkeley Bridge. Through traffic would flow smoothly to Avon, Farmington, West Hartford and the other office parks. From the West, again through traffic would be separated and be able to travel in a tunnel unmolested to East Hartford where you can either stay on I-84 or head N/S on I-91, or SW on RT-2 to the offices in Glastonbury.

Downtown would be served by a street grade road or roads that would connect to the grid disbursing traffic effectively. Primarily

These two projects would allow for more people to work downtown than currently do, and for the traffic to remain livable. It would also take away most of "the ugly" while creating park land and allowing for quieter streets with trees.

PARK RIVER

over a series of many projects I would hope to restore the watershed and increase the flow so it is once again a proper river. I would set up a plan to un-bury the river through downtown improving the park and riverfront greatly. I would also make sure that as many pieces of land as possible with river views or park frontage were set up as residential. making the city "softer"

Safety

all though it is not anything you can really plan for, but I would hope that the city works on security concerns.

It worked in NY it has to work in Hartford

SECURITY CAMERAS!

Yup, I would put a crap load of cameras all over the city. I would be sure that people knew they were being watched, and I would be sure people knew that these cameras were not grainy 1980s cameras, but high quality identify the face or lic plate day or night security cameras.

Housing

I would target many of the Class B offices to be renovated into Residential, This would put many of the city and state offices out on the street. To fix this I would have both the city and the state build new modern offices that are efficient to run and consolidate all of these tiny offices and departments. The end result would be a Bushnell Park completely surrounded by residential buildings. The Central row buildings would also be condos. The riverfront, free of its Highway would be another great place for residential development. Hopefully there would be a few major residential developments in the downtown proper (like the Jewell street condo) that would be complimented by all of the residential conversions.

Regionally

With all of the cooperation required in my Highway and street realignment plan I would like to see East Hartford rejoin Hartford proper. they have simular problems and simular strengths. The solutions for one would also create some of the solutions for the other.

By moving the Highways, this would clear up a huge jumble in the middle of East Hartford. The highways would still be there, but their interaction would be much more fluid. The streets in East Hartford are a mess right now, but by reconnecting to Hartford via Rt44 and moving a few other roads around a bit East Hartford would attract new office and Hotel opportunities. Possibly over time other waterfront Condos might pop up.

Mass transit

The planned rail line is a no brainer to me. I see connecting Springfield more closely to Hartford and the airport as imperative. Connecting to the suburbs is next (waterbury) and then to New Haven.

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For my money and time and effort, I would make a point to work towards a "prettier more livable city"

this pretty much starts and ends with the river(s) and Parks.

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Nope. It begins and ends with Hartford's perception. You can have the swankiest downtown, with the nicest riverfront and no one from the 'burbs will show up if they think they're going to get shot. Crime needs to be the A#1 priority because, honestly, downtown's pretty nice as it is, especially by the river and near the convention center. I've mentioned this here before but my parents had been out in downtown for dinner for years until I moved to the city and they were pleasantly surprised. As my mom told me, "I never thought about coming downtown." That's the problem. Everything else, from the river to transportation to retail to whatever, is second to cleaning up the city's image and curbing crime. Hartford's downtown can stand on its own if people give it a chance.

I would also mention that part of Hartford's problem with its perception is everyone insecurity about downtown, like "oh, it's not good enough, we have to improvement." Can it be better? Of course. But it's not terrible.

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Your plan to relocate I-91 and I-84 would be prohibitively expensive. Where would the money come from? The state can barely maintain the roadways and bridges they have now and a massive project like that are going to drain already limited funds. Also, you route for I-91 would run the highway through one of the most environmentally sensitive areas along the Connecticut River. The wetlands north of Governor Street are very sensitive. The State could not build the Prospect Street Bypass through this area, so I doubt they would be able to realign I-91, which would have to be much wider, through it either. Sorry but your plan is a dream that would not likely ever get built. But then again it can't hurt to dream. Jay

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I'd love to respond fully but I'm having trouble posting either images from Google Maps or Live Search Maps. Is there away around this problem?

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I'd love to respond fully but I'm having trouble posting either images from Google Maps or Live Search Maps. Is there away around this problem?

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Voice, your plan has some good ideas but personally I would do things a little differently.

The first thing I would do is impliment the plan to change 691 to 84, have 91 and 84 run concurrently until 84 spllit off at the Charter Oak Bridge, make 84 though Hartford an at grade boulevard, and return the Buckley bridge to the Hartford/East Hartford street network.

As much as I would love to do something about 91, I'm not sure that we need to remove it, especially with Riverfront Plaza built and going over it and the Science Center planned to connect with Riverfront Plaza. I think it would probably be easier to deck over 91 and terrace the riverbank all the way down to the Charter Oak Bridge, sort of like this:

T001139A.jpg

I would also have Rt. 3 end at Pitkin Street, which would be widened into an boulevard that continued east on 84's right of way past Main Street in East Hartford until it meets up with the reconfigured 84 where it currently interchanges with Rt. 15. Going west, the boulevard would have its realignment tweaked to go accross the Founder's Bridge . I would also investigate the possibility of raising the level of State Street in Hartford where it dips down by Columbus Boulevard, putting Phoenix Plaza and Consitution Plaza at street level. This would be nice because we would get rid of the blank walls that the Phoenix building and Constitution Plaza currently present to the street and have a level, integrated city scape. Columbus Blvd. can stay at the same grade and pass under State St via an arch. We would just need staircases to allow pedestrians to go up to State Street from Columbus, but there would be plenty of room for them. This would create a boulevard that continued at grade all the way from downtown Hartford to downtown East Hartford and beyond to 84.

My goal in doing this would be to give the city fabric the chance to cross over the river. Right now, there are a bunch of offices on and a nice apartment building on the East Hartford side of the river but they aren't a part of the cityscape. With the Buckley Bridge and the Founder's Bridge city streets and 84 gone as far as Silver Lane this would have a better chace of happening. We would also get back all of downtown Hartford's cityscape from Assylum Hill all the way to the river and from Downtown to the North End. The Science Center, Convention Center, and the Colt Building would all have a direct connection to the river over 91. We would also get rid of most of the maze of highway interchanges that currently carve up a good part of East Hartford. We would put a traditional street grid in East Hartford. The parcels could then be sold to developer's for mixed use development. We would in effect have a continuous city across the river. This would increase incentives for Hartford and East Hartford to merge into a unified city, and viola, we would have a connected two-bank city just like London or New York. I think the best part of my plan is that would require less building and more removing of highway, which I image has to be cheaper than building tunnels and rerouting higways.

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Nice.

I thought about the decking over of I-91, but instead chose the minor re routing because it im ny mind seemed cheaper and "prettier" to build new traditional bridges than to build a massive decking bridge that was a mile wide or whatever.

far far less building materials mind you much more engineering.

I also like the concept of adding connections across the river. Clearly at present we have a shortage of cross river access as evident by traffic at the pinch points. Given another option people tend to travel the path of least resistance, so no matter what with more arterial volume more cars will move.

We clearly agree on re establishing A street level connection between the two towns. I like how you try to add the 2nd connection at the founders bridge.

I like it, but I think that the Eastern Burbs still need some kind of high volume entrance to the city. Its a shame Hartford is not more like Prague with its 13 bridges or London with its many bridges.

The tunnel was admitadly a dream for I-84 :)

your plan is more realistic.

Another Option for similar effect is re routing 84 into 91 as you stated, but still building that northern bridge near the dump.

The reality is that these two major highways need to get close enough to downtown to deposit all the workers like me. they need to do so with convenience and speed. they also need to get thru travelers around/past/through the city as quickly as possible so they may get about their interstate business.

This is why most cities have loops. Hartford has none (barring 291)

so my goal was to get commuters close to downtown, then get them on high volume roads through downtown to maintain the speed/convenience, but re route through traffic around the downtown core. This benefits both the commuters and the through travelers.

clearly the highways are an issue around here.

I am curious however, what else would you want set out in a long term plan?

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Safety

all though it is not anything you can really plan for, but I would hope that the city works on security concerns.

It worked in NY it has to work in Hartford

SECURITY CAMERAS!

Yup, I would put a crap load of cameras all over the city. I would be sure that people knew they were being watched, and I would be sure people knew that these cameras were not grainy 1980s cameras, but high quality identify the face or lic plate day or night security cameras.

Fat lot of good it did on Park St. - did they catch those f*ckers yet?

What you need a crapload of IS COPS!!!! On foot, car, bike, horse, whatever. I'm shocked at the lack of.

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Nice.

I thought about the decking over of I-91, but instead chose the minor re routing because it im ny mind seemed cheaper and "prettier" to build new traditional bridges than to build a massive decking bridge that was a mile wide or whatever.

far far less building materials mind you much more engineering.

I also like the concept of adding connections across the river. Clearly at present we have a shortage of cross river access as evident by traffic at the pinch points. Given another option people tend to travel the path of least resistance, so no matter what with more arterial volume more cars will move.

We clearly agree on re establishing A street level connection between the two towns. I like how you try to add the 2nd connection at the founders bridge.

I like it, but I think that the Eastern Burbs still need some kind of high volume entrance to the city. Its a shame Hartford is not more like Prague with its 13 bridges or London with its many bridges.

The tunnel was admitadly a dream for I-84 :)

your plan is more realistic.

Another Option for similar effect is re routing 84 into 91 as you stated, but still building that northern bridge near the dump.

The reality is that these two major highways need to get close enough to downtown to deposit all the workers like me. they need to do so with convenience and speed. they also need to get thru travelers around/past/through the city as quickly as possible so they may get about their interstate business.

This is why most cities have loops. Hartford has none (barring 291)

so my goal was to get commuters close to downtown, then get them on high volume roads through downtown to maintain the speed/convenience, but re route through traffic around the downtown core. This benefits both the commuters and the through travelers.

clearly the highways are an issue around here.

I am curious however, what else would you want set out in a long term plan?

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I would also investigate the possibility of raising the level of State Street in Hartford where it dips down by Columbus Boulevard, putting Phoenix Plaza and Consitution Plaza at street level. This would be nice because we would get rid of the blank walls that the Phoenix building and Constitution Plaza currently present to the street and have a level, integrated city scape. Columbus Blvd. can stay at the same grade and pass under State St via an arch. We would just need staircases to allow pedestrians to go up to State Street from Columbus, but there would be plenty of room for them. This would create a boulevard that continued at grade all the way from downtown Hartford to downtown East Hartford and beyond to 84.

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Constitution Plaza is raised above the flood plain of the Connecticut River. Rather than build things on the flood plain (i.e. Columbus Blvd) extending the platform of the plaza may make more geologic sense. I wouldn't mind covering Columbus between Phoenix and the Science Center. Some day a flood will come and everyone willl be happy.

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