More than development. Norwalk redevelopment.

Complete Streets


Like anything else, streets have a a lot of different types.  Big streets, little streets, old cobblestone streets, modern asphalt streets, one- and two-way streets, local streets, “highway” streets, residential streets, commercial streets…etc.  A relatively new entry into the taxonomy of streets is “complete streets.”

As you can see from the image above, a complete street’s defining quality is that it serves the complete spectrum of users, not just stopping at sidewalks for pedestrians and a cartway for everything else.  Complete streets incorporate design consideration for cars, certainly, but also for bicycles, transit, pedestrians, and the disabled.  What is counter-intuitive for most people, but seems to get borne out in an increasing amount of research, is that sharing the road with all users increases safety and doesn’t cause delays for cars.  This latter conclusion has been proven in different research looking at road width: (again counter-intuitively,) more car lanes do not ease congestion.

Just as streets in a downtown area need to accommodate a complete set of users, they also need to be a part of a complete network.

While the central thrust of the entire Connectivity initiative is to provide and encourage the use of other means of transportation between and among downtown’s major destinations, it is inevitable that traffic volume will also increase .  And given that the downtown’s shape is long and skinny, most of that volume will concentrate itself on West Avenue, prompting a consideration of the alternatives to West Avenue in the case of emergencies or otherwise.

Presently the only continuous alternative to West Avenue is Commerce to Harbor to Crescent to the roadways within the Reed Putnam developments.  A potential alternative that has been closely examined is Academy Street, but, as this diagram indicates, there are gaps in the Street, both at the top of the corridor, and further south.  This, along with concerns about protecting the neighborhood to the east, has prompted the Academy Street Extension proposal, which has been included by reference within the Connectivity Plan.

Additionally, discussion has continued about the possibility of extending Crescent Street, not west to its original intersection with West Avenue, but rather south, alongside and below the rail bed to intersect with the new Reed Street underpass.

Both proposals promote the street grid, providing network and the associated choices that network brings with it.