Mother Nature Complicates Tweed ‘Master Plan’
The proposed “Master Plan” to expand Tweed New Haven Airport has proven controversial for East Haven residents, many of whom are strongly opposed.
An inadequate Environmental Assessment by the airport in addressing numerous public health and ecological factors has found the town objecting to the current plan as incompatible with the community and left opposing residents beleaguered. Flooding along Coe Avenue at the intersection of Hemingway Avenue and Short Beach Road — which is likely to worsen in the future — and a lack of a plan surrounding it has added on to the anxiety of the proposed expansion.
Coe-Hemingway corridor, which is used as a main artery from commuters traveling in and out of East Haven, is also looking to be used by Tweed as a route to the airport. If the expansion were to go through, those getting to the airport would pass through the intersection to get to Proto Drive off Coe Avenue, which is being considered as an artery to the newly proposed terminal in the expansion.
For attentive and concerned residents like Ken Engelman, this is unacceptable.
“The Tweed Master Plan has not proposed solutions to the increased flooding at this main intersection,” said Engleman. “They ignore it and have ignored it for the last few years since Avelo first started operations and caring community residents started speaking up.”
Engelman, who has lived in the Branford Short Beach Road area for 18 years, is a member of several community organizations who are fighting against the “Master Plan,” including Save Our Shoreline, Connecticut and Keep Tweed Small. He is worried that with an expansion that doesn’t include adequate plans, increased traffic congestion will only make conditions more unsafe and confusing as flooding at the intersection grows worse over time.
“The increase in flooding at the intersection will block everyone,” said Engelman. “This will snarl traffic, commuters, children on school buses, and local residents, on top of travelers coming from out of town to catch their cheap flights.”
Engelman is not alone in recognizing the inadequacies of the intersection being used as an artery to an expanded Tweed.
In public statements to the town, correspondence with the Department of Transportation, and in its objection to the airport’s draft Environmental Assessment, Town Hall is very concerned with the Coe-Hemingway corridor’s vulnerability to chronic, worsening flooding.
At the Federal Aviation Administration hearing at East Haven High School on April 1, Mayor Joseph Carfora mentioned the “serious safety concerns” that “frequent and severe flooding” poses to motorists. He addressed what the town perceived as a lack of a sufficient plan by Tweed on how to take in account the “routing of large quantities of additional traffic on these roads as the primary route of ingress and egress” to Tweed if the expansion were to occur.
The town has stood by its statements since then with regards to the Coe-Hemingway area.
“Mayor Carfora and his administration have consistently taken the position that Route 337 [Coe Avenue] at Route 142 [Hemingway Avenue] flooding conditions are intolerable and hazardous,” Michelle Benivegna, Director of Administration and Management at Town Hall, told The Courier.
For residents like Engelman, the lack of both sufficient flooding and evacuation plans by Tweed is ultimately another example as to why the expansion of Tweed should not occur. Disregarding the health and safety of residents, it’s profit that matters more to the airport’s owners, Avports, which is owned by investment bank Goldman Sachs.
“What’s more important in America? The residents’ and taxpayers’ health and well-being, or business, which is a select few people who can make money on harming other people?” asked Engelman. “When it comes to the people making money, they don’t even live in Connecticut. It’s not like a neighbor’s business who’s trying to make money.”
Neither Avports nor Tweed could not be reached for a comment on the matter.
Other residents have directly experienced how vulnerable the Coe-Hemingway corridor is continuously becoming for flooding, even after less-intense rainstorms. Lorena Venegas, who lives in the Momauguin area of East Haven, said that “casual rain” has resulted in detours away from a short commute to her place of work and is enough to be unsafe for drivers.
Photographs taken by Engelman during the morning-rush hours of July 16 show cars driving through flooding at the Hemingway-Shore Beach intersection. Photographs on the morning of Nov. 23 show police having to redirect traffic from Coe Avenue away from the flooded intersection.
Business owners at the intersection’s adjacent South Shore Plaza shopping mall have already felt the negative effects of flooding. Moxie Breakfast owner Diana Navarro said flooding at the intersection has affected her business “a lot” and caused inconveniences for customers.
“Sometimes, I have orders on a platform like Uber Eats or Doordash. We make the orders, but the driver can’t come and get the food, so we waste it in the dumpster,” said Navarro.
The inflow of customers has also been affected by flooding, which has had an effect on the amount of money made at Moxie Breakfast, added Navarro.
Both Engelman and Venegas expressed worries that flooding will only grow worse with the Tweed expansion in the near future as a warming climate bringing heavier rainfall will be exacerbated by increased air pollution due to increased automobile traffic and air travel.
Town Hall continues to keep a close watch on the troublesome nature of the chronic flooding and other “safety and quality of life reasons” that have led to its objections to the “Master Plan” by Tweed, said Benivegna.
“Our position is clear: The State needs to come up with a plan, not solely because of the proposed Tweed action, but more importantly, for safety and quality of life reasons,” Benivegna said. “The Town remains vigilant in its objections to the currently proposed Tweed action for a number of well-documented reasons, one of which is obviously substantial concerns about the chronic flooding at [the] intersection of Coe and Hemingway.”