Let’s Build a Pedestrian Bridge to Long Wharf!

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I was going on a run the other day (no, really), and I wanted to check out Long Wharf. Cause, you know, it’s pretty and whatnot. It turns out, actually running to Long Wharf isn’t that easy. In fact, it’s a downright pain in the ass.

You essentially have to cross under the I-95 overpass, or, as I like to call it, The Tunnel of Broken Glass (and Dreams). And then you take a right on Long Wharf, dodging cars until you’re over in Food Truck City (Capitol: Nextali). And it’s pretty nice. Except, you know, for the non-stop traffic behind you.

You can, of course, drive to Long Wharf. That’s easy enough. But in a transit-oriented city, how is it that the only way to get to the waterfront is a CAR?

Come on, New Haven.

In a blog post, New Haven architect Jonathan Hopkins described how moving I-95 further out into the water would reclaim a ton of waterfront space. But here in Reality, that shit is never gonna happen.

So what can we do to encourage all of those Ikea shoppers to come on by and enjoy the waterfront?

Why, a majestic pedestrian bridge over I-95, of course!

Behold … Josh’s Cool Bridge:

Pedestrian Bridge over I-95
Artist’s Note: Pedestrians may not always be this happy due to existential dread.

As you can see, it’s a pedestrian-only bridge. Well, pedestrians and bikes, I think. I’m flexible on the use of drab gray, but I insist it has stairs and/or a ramp, as I’ve carefully drawn using my expert Photoshop skills.

I might even be convinced of a different name.

Also, it’d be way closer to Ikea but I couldn’t find a decent picture of that part of the highway to steal from the Internet, sorry. (You can sue me for my total lack of profits, Internet.)

By building this bridge, we connect the now-isolated Long Wharf area to the popular Long Wharf Theater and Ikea. Imagine if you could go buy a lovely Grönkulla at Ikea, then enjoy a spicy Nextali taco over in the food truck area, enjoy the setting sun, and then take in a play at the Theater!

Sure, you could do that now, but you’ve had to drive your car like some sort of 20th century Neanderthal. Gross.

One of New Haven’s sad truths is the lack of waterfront development. It’s a terrible waste of beautiful, smelly property, and without moving the highway (Sorry, Jon), there isn’t a TON to be done about it.

New Haven is opening a Long Wharf Visitor Center, and the addition of Lenny and Joe’s is an excellent start, but we really need to do more.

New-Haven-Building-Waterview1

Where Does The Money Come From?

I don’t know, what am I, some sort of Money Scientist?

Obviously, this would be a bit expensive. Probably like… way more than 30 or 40 dollars. I get that.

But you could make the money back in economic development. Sell a permit for a foot cart on the bridge itself! Plus, you can sell advertising on the pedestrian bridge. I assume, since it’s my idea, that betweentworocks.com will get free advertising forever. Which will probably lead to us being profitable in 2024.

I just can’t help but feel that the isolation of Long Wharf has been a significant problem for waterfront development. There’s simply no easy way to get there — especially if you aren’t driving.

Admittedly, even getting to Ikea, most people drive, since nobody wants to deal with Water/Brewery St. But maybe a few bike lanes and suddenly this whole idea becomes more attractive. I mean, the current layout is a bit… sub-optimal?

Long Wharf Map Area
As you can see, my city planning skills almost match my photoshop skills.

Long Wharf Can Be So Much More

Waterfront property is, generally speaking, the most coveted and desired. But somehow, New Haven, in their brilliance of urban planning, thought to themselves, “How can we absolutely ruin all of our waterfront property?”

“I know! We’ll build oil refineries and an enormous highway intersection where people can sit in traffic!”

Somehow, despite all that, food trucks have managed to scratch together a little community and people love that shit. Well, people who drive cars.

Long Wharf Food Trucks

 

Can I hear myself saying, “Let’s ride our bikes over the Josh’s Cool Bridge and get some tacos! And stand on the pier and remember our youths, when we had hopes and dreams before they dissolved into the creeping realization that you’ll never amount to everything you’d hoped”?

Heck yeah I can!

So let’s get this bridge built. Maybe we can make Yale pay for it. They love paying for shit, right? And paying taxes. I heard that about them.

Long Wharf is a sadly under-utilized part of the city. It has the theater and Brazi’s and Ikea and the food trucks and a restaurant and a sad off-track betting area and a couple of boats you can ride on and enjoy the wonders of Long Island Sound.

Now let’s actually get people there.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Supposedly as part of the Water Street cycle track, there will be dedicated cycling infrastructure created along Brewery Street, Sargent Drive, and Canal Dock Rd to access Long Wharf, but I think your proposal gets at an important point which is that the route to the water needs to not only be safe and practical, but actually pleasant in order to convince most people to attempt using the proposed infrastructure. Furthermore, there need to be destinations beyond what currently exists along the waterfront in order to entice more people to want to go check it out.
    http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/bike-friendly_road_improvements_on_the_horizon/
    I suspect that an elevated bridge would be far too expensive and undesirable to ConnDOT, especially considering the ramps that would be needed for accessibility and bikes, so a much more likely route would be along existing streets like what is being proposed as part of the Water Street cycle track. The key will be in lighting, separation, signals, and other details along the route to the waterfront that will ultimately either make the path a viable route to the waterfront for users or another waste of money that nobody uses.

  2. Long Wharf Theater just did a bike and ride thing, you biked from the library to the theater and your theater tickets magically went from $100 to $35 and you also got some free two roads beers and subs out of it. I went, it was nice. We didn’t take the tunnel of broken glass to get there, but I -foolishly- took it back and regret it. The subject of revitalizing Long wharf came up among us bikers, and we ended up shrugging as I’m sure so many others have done.

    I like your bridge idea. There’s various pedestrian spaces in NY near FDR or other highways that use natural landscaping barriers for sound obfuscation and also beautification. That bridge would need that stuff just to make it appealing enough for use. And…as you say, it’d mostly be a bridge to nowhere, until one day, the New Haven Planning and Zoning board sits down and says, you know what, we have a sizable budget excess this year, also, screw our corporate overlords, lets tear down all the industrial eye sores and build some amazingly gorgeous architecture, and the 95 thruway and any regulations from Hartford or D.C. won’t stop us neither. So yeah…. I’m sure those series of events will happen any century now …

  3. Check this out! https://www.facebook.com/visiontrailpark/?pnref=story

    “Hey y’all!
    This summer, we’re building a park: Vision Trail Park.
    The mission of VTP is to build a beautiful gateway between downtown New Haven and Long Wharf for everyone. We’re thrilled to be working with the City of New Haven and Urban Resources Initiative to make this happen!
    Next steps? We’ll be organizing 3 events this summer:
    • Vision Trail Park: Clean-up
    • Vision Trail Park: Tree planting
    • Vision Trail Park: Flower-planting / Pop-up Bike Lane building.
    Like this page to keep updated on volunteer events and ways to get involved! Further questions or emojis? DM us!
    Don’t know where the Vision Trail is? Check it out here: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Vision+Trail,+New+Haven,+CT/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x89e7d84a0b15688d:0x5aa2897e1f032365?sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj97dfhlf3MAhWEFT4KHZ-7Dn0Q8gEIHDAA
    Y’all rock,
    VTP Team”

  4. About twenty years ago this would have made sense, IF a ballpark for the New Haven Ravens at Long Wharf was ever built. But the city never showed any interest, and practically rented the moving vans for them when the team pulled up stakes and relocated to Manchester, NH. And yes, I know about the debacle that is Dunkin Donuts Park.

    The city has been trying to build up Long Wharf for decades now, and quite most of the ideas have ranged from “ambitious” (the long delayed Boathouse that nobody seems to be able to answer what purpose it would serve), to the downright idiotic (sinking I-95 below the water level, which the Army Corps. of Engineers even thought was stupid). This is probably one of the better ideas, but at the same time there’s not a whole lot to draw people down to Long Wharf.

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