NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — On Tuesday night, a 42-year-old nurse, Melissa Tancredi, was hit and killed by a car near the intersection of York Street and North Frontage Road in New Haven.
“This is not something we believe the pedestrian contributed to or had any control over,” said New Haven Police Department spokesperson David Hartman. Tancredi was waiting to cross the street when a car ran onto the sidewalk where she was standing. The accident is still under investigation.
This is not the first time that a pedestrian was hit at this intersection. In 2008, protests by community members erupted after a pedestrian was killed there, demanding the city address problematic traffic patterns. A coalition of local organizations began, called the “New Haven Safe Streets Coalition.” Again, another fatality occurred in May 2009, at the intersection of College and South Frontage Road, just three blocks away. A News 8 Investigators analysis of traffic data shows that the area surrounding Yale-New Haven Hospital has two to three accidents involving pedestrians a year.
That data, publically available on UConn’s Connecticut Crash Data Repository, revealed many other streets in New Haven that are particularly dangerous for pedestrians. At the top of that list: Whalley Avenue.
“Within the last month, I’ve seen about 6 accidents,” Ralph Cee said of the intersection in front of his barber shop. His shop, Sharper Edges, has been based on Whalley Avenue for years and just recently moved to the corner of Ella T Grasso Boulevard and Whalley Avenue. “Something has to be done.”
Over the years, Cee says he’s tried to get the city to take action. “We try to reach out to the alderman, the city of New Haven, parks and recs – it seems like our efforts have been in vain.”
Cee says that the walk signals are slow to change, and once it indicates it is safe for pedestrians to cross, it is too fast. On Thursday afternoon, Cee crossed Whalley Avenue at an average pace as soon as the walk signal indicated he could cross, and was still in the road when it changed back to stop.
Some of the intersections along Whalley Avenue with the highest number of pedestrian-involved accidents, from 2010 to 2014, included the intersections of Fitch Street, Ella T Grasso Boulevard, and Sherman Avenue.
Like others, Yale University has as safety committee studying pedestrian and street safety. Cee said changes are not coming soon enough. He blames the city.
“If it’s constant, if it’s repetition, people are getting hurt out here. Something has to be done.”
Between 2010 and 2014, 44 pedestrians were killed in New Haven County. In the same time period, 49 were killed in Hartford County and 43 in Fairfield County.