Make New Haven’s Union Station Area a Destination, Not a Park and Ride

Wayfinding signage posted outside New Haven's Union Station shows that there isn't much within a 10-minute walk. | Image: Joseph Cutrufo/TSTC

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has a plan to build a 1,000 car parking garage near Union Station in New Haven, but there’s just one problem: the city doesn’t want it. The New Haven Independent reports:

The state’s proposal comes amid increase in ridership and a decrease in number of parking facilities downtown. The current garage at the train station fills up fast on weekday mornings. The planned new garage would be connected to the existing one through driveways and pedestrian sidewalks. Together, the two would accommodate 1,800 vehicles.

Despite its attempt at addressing the shortage of parking space at the city’s transit hub, the proposal drew criticism Monday night for not fully meeting the city’s needs. At a public hearing held Monday night, over 15 speakers — from city officials to cyclists to neighbors — raised concerns. Representatives from Connecticut Department of Transportation said they will incorporate the public input into the final plan, planned for completion by March 2017. Construction is scheduled to take place from spring 2017 through end of 2018.

The garage proposal continues a troubling trend of putting driving first in a neighborhood that desperately needs transit-oriented development and stronger pedestrian, bicycle and transit connections to downtown New Haven. Residents who spoke at a public hearing last night bemoaned the additional traffic (and pollution) the garage would generate, the lack of ground floor retail and amenities for people who bike to the station, and the fact that the plan doesn’t include a bus depot.

Of course, there’s a perfectly reasonable argument for having sufficient parking at Metro North stations: it allows drivers to avoid clogging up the notoriously-congested highways between southwestern Connecticut and New York City. But New Haven, a city where nearly 30 percent of households don’t own cars, shouldn’t have to shoulder the region’s burden alone. If more parking is needed near the eastern end of the New Haven Line, ConnDOT might consider building a garage atop an existing surface parking lot at West Haven station, which is already a park and ride.

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