Mayor Pedro Segarra stopped in to several businesses along Capitol Avenue Friday morning to talk about the city’s decision not to oppose the closure of Flower Street to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, officials in his office said.
Residents of the Asylum Hill and Frog Hollow neighborhoods say the CTfastrak busway is splitting the city and hurting businesses by shutting off Flower Street, a north-south connector between the insurance office buildings on Farmington Avenue and the merchants of Capitol Avenue. They had been counting on Segarra to fight the state’s plans to cut off pedestrian and bike traffic and expressed frustration when he abandoned the battle earlier this week. Motor vehicle traffic has been blocked off on Flower Street since December.
“He acknowledged that it wasn’t handled very well,” said Virginia Iacobucci, who owns the La Paloma Sabanera coffeehouse on Capitol Avenue. “He said he’s very mindful of how it’s going to affect us, the businesses, here on Capitol. He said previous [Hartford] mayors have been criticized for not working more closely with the state, and he had to make a comprise somewhere. He did promise me that the businesses here can meet with [city Development Director] Thom Deller to see how we can at least minimize the damage done by closing Flower Street. We’re supposed to meet sometime in coming week or two.”
“I felt better that he came by,” she added.
The state department of transportation has insisted that it had studied every possible way of getting pedestrians through the busway crossing at Flower Street, but couldn’t come up with a safe and affordable answer.
Wedged between the Aetna property and the Hartford Courant’s building, the right of way for Amtrak and the busway is too narrow for a traditional crossing like one that will exist less than 2 miles away, where the busway crosses Hamilton Street.
A stream of buses and trains will pass through the Flower Street crossing every day, and there’s no practical way to install crossing gates as well as a safety island for pedestrians, the DOT said.
A decision on the closure of Flower Street will likely be issued by May 20, officials said. The DOT has said it wants to close Flower Street access for a month this spring during construction, and then shut it down altogether in the fall.