WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Leaders in the Naugatuck Valley are getting some new help in their efforts to protect pedestrians and bikers. The vision is, eventually, to have zero pedestrian and bicycle fatalities in the valley.
The reality right now, however, is very different. There have been 750 people seriously injured, and 175 killed on the area’s roads in the last few years, according to Richard Donovan, the transportation planning director for the Naugatuck Valley Council of Government.
It’s a number, Donovan said, that’s “too much.”
The area is improving, however, with new funds for Vision Zero planning.
Rick Dunne, the executive director of the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, said the council is in the process of putting together a plan to use $400 in federal funds.
That plan is to change road and sidewalk infrastructure to better protect people not in cars. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) helped secure the federal funding for a concept with nationwide goals.
“[This] aims at making road safer for pedestrians and cyclists at a time when there are more of them, doing more of it,” Blumenthal said.
On a section of Waterbury’s East Main Street that has already been upgraded, the sidewalk sticks out a little bit into the street. That has drivers going both ways subconsciously slowing down because the road seems to narrow. Anyone waiting to cross in the crosswalk is protected by big planters.
Plans also include things like roundabouts to slow traffic, raised crosswalks and separate, protected bike lanes. The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments has complied maps of all the most dangerous places in the area, and are prioritizing those for improvements.
“While also making our city streets a little more visually interesting and complex, [we are] forcing drivers to pay more attention and making our cities a more enjoyable place to be,” Donovan said.
The goal is to reach zero pedestrian deaths by the 2060.