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What a Change

Mike McGarry

February 06, 2008

A decade ago, a Civic Center filled to capacity during working hours could – and did – cause havoc in terms of traffic. This year of our Lord, 2008,things have changed for the better. At Monday’s rally for Barak Obama, there was more gridlock than usual at rush hour but all reports indicate that everything went fairly smoothly. Circling the Civic Center (now the XL Center) was not an option; Ann Street was closed.

The one big factor that helped was that, although the event began at 5:30 pm, doors opened much earlier, at 3:30 pm. We saw lots of attendees walking around the city, apparently enjoying themselves

However, if we were one of the big cheeses, we might have taken the opportunity to teach a few civic lessons to the multitudes.

For example, the governor or our mayor could have announced the availability of mass transit, especially the E-Bus route down Farmington Avenue. It runs frequently, even after 5 pm. Our advice to most people worried about the availability or cost of parking is to park on a side street in West Hartford or the West End of Hartford and take the bus. Many savvy West Enders did just that. Less congestion, less air pollution and fewer frustrated people looking for a parking place in Downtown Hartford.

Another factor that cannot be overlooked is the city’s increased parking capacity. Some of it is expensive, but the savvy motorist can usually find an inexpensive spot north of I-84 or a metered spot around Bushnell Park. Most UCONN season ticket holders have figured it out – maybe some of the Obama supporters were those folks.

Police were everywhere, B.I.D. personnel evident and helpful and the media did a good job of reporting closed streets. Nobody was looking for trouble or anything other than a historic opportunity. Lots of people bought lunch and many remarked to me about how clean and neat Downtown looked.

Somehow, such events should be used to encourage return visits. The Courant missed a beat by not printing a special edition. The turnaround must have been to quick but it would have been great piece to show the grandchildren.

So this old grouch has little to grouch about and says, “Job well done, come again!”

Reprinted with permission of the The Hartford News.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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