New Haven has 49 bridges for which the City is responsible, and several others such as the Pearl Harbor “Q” Bridge and several other highway or railroad bridges for which the State or some other entity is responsible.
Of the 49 bridges that are a City responsibility, three are movable bridges – the Ferry Street Bridge and the Grand Avenue Bridge over the Quinnipiac River, and the Chapel Street Bridge over the Mill River – that require a much greater degree of maintenance.
The Department of Public Works is responsible for day-to-day maintenance of the bridges, and staffs the three movable bridges. The Engineering Department is responsible for the long-term condition of the bridges.
There are 225 miles of road in New Haven, and they are reviewed for both condition and functionality.
Condition refers to the state of repair of the road, and is the responsibility of the Department of Public Works (DPW). DPW commissioned a study that graded the condition of all roads in December of 2009, with the intention of doing a complete re-grading of conditions every five years. That study can be found here in map format and you can look up your street here in the complete Excel document. Repairs the have taken place since December of 2009 have been updated in the Excel document.
The weighted average condition of New Haven roads was graded a 76 in the December 2009 study. While that is probably above average nationally (while hard to compare, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded the overall condition of US roads a D- in 2009), it includes a wide variety of conditions.
Methods of treatment vary depending on road condition and other factors such as traffic volume. Methods range from crack-sealing, a thin in-house overlay application, microsurfacing, hot in-place recycling, traditional mill-and-pave, and full reconstruction. Traditional mill-and-pave costs about $15 per square yard for an average road, which would add up to $11.7 million to mill-and-pave only the roads that scored lower than a 60 in the December 2009 study. To see more about different ways of treating and paving roads, click here.
Functionality refers to whether the road is handling the needs for which it is being used. In most parts of the country, that generally means whether the road needs to be widened to accommodate more traffic flow. In New Haven, widening roads is usually not an option because we are built-out, and it is also not a preferred way of handling transportation needs.
The City has pulled together a design framework called the Complete Streets Manual to maximize the utility of streets for all modes of transportation, with an emphasis on safety.
There are about 370 miles of sidewalk in the City of New Haven. Responsibility for sidewalk condition is split between the abutting property owner and the City as described below. Similar to the pavement condition map, the City is planning a sidewalk condition inventory during 2012 to provide good, objective data for prioritizing investments.
Property owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks of snow and other potentially hazard conditions, and are liable if failure to do so causes injury. The City holds liability for damage caused by physical defects in the sidewalk when it is found that the City should have reasonably known about the defect, though the City can force a property owner to fix a physical defect of which it becomes aware (or lien the property owner for the cost of the repair if the owner does act) if the defect was not caused by the City.
Defects caused by the City principally include raised slabs from roots of City-owned trees, though can be from other causes. Defects that the City can mandate a property owner fix include raised slabs caused by trees on the owner’s property, damage caused by vehicles on the sidewalk, and age-related wear. In practice, the City will only force a property owner to repair the sidewalk if the damage is caused by improper use such as parking a vehicle on the sidewalk.
Replacing sidewalks is very expensive – approximately $120 per linear foot including curbs and driveway aprons, or about $80 per linear foot for just sidewalks. For sidewalks in front of City property, and sidewalks defects caused by the City (City-owned trees, etc), the City will eliminate trip hazards and ensure good condition. For other sidewalks, the City will eliminate trip hazards but will not necessarily do work beyond that. Mitigation of trip hazards could include blacktop patching and grinding down raised edges of the sidewalk. City responsibility for age-related wear, damage caused by vehicles where the sidewalk passes a driveway, and damage caused by non-City owned trees, etc. stops at eliminating the trip hazard, and does not extend to replacing disfigured or discolored sections or sections that are cracked but not a current trip hazard.
Although the City is only obligated to keep in good repair the sidewalks in front of City property and damage elsewhere caused by the City (usually a City-owned tree), the City recognizes that good sidewalks are a benefit for the City. For that reason, the City allocates money each year to replace some sidewalks, prioritized based on condition and foot-traffic. The amount is limited, and does not come close to the built-up demand. Sidewalks can last 50 years and replacing all the sidewalks in the City would cost well over $100 million, so deferred maintenance from decades past cannot be fixed in a short period.
The City conducted a condition assessment in 1999 and again in the fall of 2012. It can be found here as a map, or here to see an Excel file of all sidewalk conditions. The work done in the intervening years has increased the percentage of sidewalks graded as “excellent” or “good” from 40.4% to 62.7%. The City plans to continue to make steady progress on sidewalk condition, but improvements will be incremental given the size of the work to be done.
Listed here are the sidewalks approved by the Resource Allocation Committee for work in the Spring of 2013. The locations have not all been given a detailed cost estimate, so the final two streets listed will be done contingent on the cost of the streets listed above. In addition to this work, spot repairs will also be done to very short sections of poor-condition sidewalk where the adjoining sections are in good repair.
Sewers, Drains and Flooding Conditions
Sanitary sewers are the responsibility of the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority (GNHWPCA), of which New Haven appoints four of the nine board members. In many areas, the sanitary sewer line is shared by the stormwater line, which is referred to as a combined sewer. Where the system is combined, the City is responsible for 40% of the local costs and the GNHWPCA is responsible for the other 60%. The City is responsible for a stormwater system that includes approximately 160 miles of storm lines, 7,000 catch basins, 3,500 manholes, 260 stormwater outfalls, detention basins, flood control structures and the 40% share in the combined sewer system.
To improve water quality, the City and the GNHWPCA are required through a federal consent order to separate the sewers that currently carry both sanitary and stormwater into separate lines, to ensure that sanitary waste does not get washed into the New Haven Harbor, as well as various other improvements. The estimated cost of these improvements is $400,000,000, of which we expect to get half the cost paid for by federal grants, 30% covered by the GNHWPCA and 20% due from the City. Additional costs to improve the water quality from stormwater run-off are beginning to take effect, though it is unknown at present what future requirements and costs will be.
The City must maintain the stormwater infrastructure, which includes the storm drains, the catch basins that are part of those drains, the road geometry that makes stormwater flow into the drains instead of pooling, and any separate stormwater lines. The City also has a responsibility to address flooding issues on public property or caused by public property.
The City administration has considered the creation of a separate Stormwater Authority to handle these responsibilities. A study was commissioned with state funding, together with New London and Norwalk, and can be viewed here.
There are 32,000 trees for which the City is responsible located in the tree belt (the area between the sidewalk and the road), and as well as all the trees in City parks or other public property.
Trees – or more specifically, the “Urban Tree Canopy” (UTC) – are important for several reasons:
- Property value and neighborhood aesthetics
- Stormwater mitigation – the existing UTC intercepts 53 million gallons of rainfall, saving an estimated $424,000 annually
- Energy conservation – the existing UTC saves 2,667 MW of electricity, saving $373,700, and 942,000 therms of natural gas equivalent, saving $1,326,000 annually
- Air quality – the existing UTC eliminates 59,951 lbs of air pollutants annually through absorption or avoided production, a value of $310,000 annually
- Carbon sequestration – the existing UTC sequesters 7.5 million lbs of CO2 annually, storing 169 million pounds
The City has a goal of planting 10,000 new trees in partnership with the Urban Resources Initiative (URI), which is a non-profit that plants the trees and builds community stewardship to maintain them.
The Parks Department is responsible for removal of dead, dangerous or dying trees, and trimming trees to remove dead or damaged limbs, promote health and remove obstructions to signs or street lights.
The City has many buildings, ranging from City Hall to small park pavilions. The Parks Department maintains their own structures, as does the Board of Education. All other City buildings fall under the Engineering Department to maintain. They include:
- City Hall, 165 Church Street
- Hall of Records, 200 Orange Street
- Police Headquarters, 1 Union Avenue
- Police Training Academy, garage and firing range, 710 Sherman Avenue
- New Haven Animal Shelter, 81 Fournier Street
- 7 police sub-stations, owned; 1 rented (2 others are in other municipal buildings)
- Central Fire Station, 952 Grand Avenue
- 9 fire houses
- New Haven Fire Training Academy and maintenance shop, 230 Ella Grasso Blvd
- Ives Main Library, 133 Elm
- 4 branch libraries
- Public Works, 34 Middletown Avenue
- Transportation, Traffic & Parking shop, 42 Middletown Avenue
- 2 rented senior centers, 1 owned
- Health Department offices, part of condominium offices at 54 Meadow Street
- Shubert Theater, 247 College Street
- 2 tunnels
The Engineering Department is responsible for the structure, systems and overall condition of the buildings. In some cases, the individual departments using the facility (or the condominium association or theater management company) takes care of regular maintenance and cleaning and in others the Engineering Department oversees the contracts for those duties.