Broadway and Elm

To return to the Multimodal Transportation Planning page to view other proposals, click here.

One of the oldest and most important streets in New Haven, Elm Street, as it’s known to us today, was laid out as part of original Nine Square Plan along the north side of the Green. At its western terminus at York Street, Elm Street widened and splayed in several directions north and west toward the Litchfield Turnpike, the almshouse, and Mt. Carmel in Hamden. Today, Elm Street, Whalley Avenue, Goffee Street, and Dixwell Avenue converge at Broadway funneling traffic to and from Downtown.

Existing Conditions:

Elm Street (State to Church, College to York)

Elm Street, as it passes through the central business district and Yale’s main campus, carries three travel lanes eastbound towards Grand Avenue. On-street parking exists along the north side of the street and a bike lane has recently been added to the south side of the street.

Elm Street (Church to College)

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Named for the elms planted throughout the city center by James Hillhouse in the 1780s, Elm Street – like many Downtown streets – was once shaded by arching elm trees. The section of Elm Street that passes along the Green widens and incorporates an additional lane of on-street parking along the south side of the street.

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Broadway

Broadway has been a commercial center in the city since the 18th century. Prior to the arrival of railroads, Broadway served as a mercantile center and gave access to the city from the north. The late-19th century brought streetcars to Broadway – first embedded within the roadway, then moved to the center island when electric trolleys arrived in the early 20th century, and eventually removed completely and replaced with buses in the mid-20th century.

Broadway declined as a commercial center in the late-20th century having lost most of its costumer base to suburban shopping plazas. In the 1990s, Yale University and the City of New Haven worked together to redesign Broadway to have a more attractive streetscape, additional off-street parking facilities, and streamlined traffic flow. Today, the district boasts upscale shopping destinations for clothing, electronics, and dining as well as active upper floor uses such as barber shops, student activities, and offices. Though much of the local character has been replaced, the district remains more active throughout the day than it did a generation ago.

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Elm Street (Howe to Kensington)

East of Kensington and west of Norton, Elm Street narrows. The eastern end developed as a part of the West Village where laborers lived in small, tidy houses. Here sidewalks are narrow, and houses built close to the street. The western end, however, has deep tree planters and larger houses on regular lots designed for two families. One lane of on-street parking is lost, while west of the Boulevard, Elm Street turns to two-way.

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 Elm Street (Kensington to Norton)

Beyond the Nine Squares, Elm Street was originally known as Samaritan Street because it was the road to the Almshouse. Widening beyond Kensington, Elm Street developed as a middle-income residential area on the edges of the Edgewood and Dwight neighborhoods. Running westbound one-way, there are two travel lanes and on-street parking on either side of the street.

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Pros: high roadway carrying capacity between Howe and the Boulevard; convenient on-street parking

Cons: no dedicated westbound cycling infrastructure; one-way circulation system prevents convenient access

Bike Lanes & Two-Way Street Conversion

In the 1950s Elm Street, like many Downtown streets,  was converted from two-way to one-way in order to facilitate easier travel into the center of New Haven. Between Howe and the Boulevard, Elm Street exists as a two-lane, one-way racetrack out of Downtown into two heavily residential neighborhoods. For these reasons, Elm Street might be an appropriate candidate for conversion back to two way along its entire length. Furthermore, cycling infrastructure can be improved along much of the corridor.

Elm Street (State to Church, College to York)

The Downtown section of Elm Street, excluding the portion along the Green, can maintain two lanes travel eastbound, while converting one travel lane and the parking lane to westbound. The westbound travel lane, in this section, would also include a sharrow, while the current eastbound dedicated bike lane would remain.

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Elm Street (Church to College)

Along the Green, the existing south side parking lane can be narrowed, the bike lane moved over, and a westbound bike lane can be added. And as outlined above, one travel lane and the north side on-street parking would become westbound.

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Broadway

Broadway’s roadbed is quite wide – at 24 feet westbound, and 36 feet east bound – allowing room a 4-foot westbound bike lane and a 6-foot eastbound bike lane with 10-foot travel lanes.

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Elm Street (Howe to Kensington)

Along the narrow sections of Elm Street where there is not room for dedication cycling facilities, sharrows would have to suffice.

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Elm Street (Kensington to Norton)

Between Kensington and Norton, Elm Street could be converted to two-way and take on the character of Orange Street with dedicated bike lanes and two-way travel.

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Pros: two-way travel; dedicated cycling infrastructure

Cons: loss of high roadway carrying capacity along the route, narrow bike lane westbound along Broadway

Conclusion

Elm Street traverses three neighborhoods and gives access to a major city park from Downtown. As such, the street itself could benefit from better accessibility. By converting Elm Street to two-way along its entire length, circulation among all road users can improve with some loss in the street’s carrying capacity. Though as more Downtown streets are converted to two-way, more options are made available – thus distributing vehicles across a network rather than concentrating them. Additionally, dedicated bike facilities can encourage alternative modes of transportation and calm traffic along this important corridor of the city.

Resources

For additional information on one-way to two-way street conversion in New Haven, check out the charrette presentation here and the final report here.

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