Gridlock possible this weekend in New Haven with Yale Class Day, commencement, protest, parade, highway work

NEW HAVEN >> The city is expected to be hectic this weekend with multiple scheduled events significantly affecting traffic.

Thousands of students, parents, protesters and visitors will clog downtown. Yale University’s Class Day is Sunday and undergraduate commencement Monday. The school’s graduate student union Local 33 Unite Here and other labor activists are expected to protest.

And, the Elm City Freddy Fixer Parade also takes place this weekend. The parade will march down Dixwell Avenue Sunday at 1:30 p.m., starting at the intersection of Bassett Street and ending at the intersection of Lake Place.

Last year’s parade drew thousands of spectators with The Elm City Freddy Fixer Parade Committee Inc. expecting around the same number of participants and spectators this year.

And amid all that, the state Department of Transportation issued traffic alerts for roadwork on Interstate 95, Interstate 91 and Route 34 in New Haven starting Friday night through May 26.

The DOT said in an advisory, “Please plan ahead and consider alternate routes to your destination.”

The problem is that the destination for thousands of people is, in fact, New Haven.

The city issued its own alert Friday evening.

Public safety and traffic officials reported street closures scheduled for Monday morning, and the potential for moderate to extensive delays as a result.

Officials urged all those planning travel to, through, or within the Yale University and downtown area Monday to plan accordingly, and they recommended early departures and an allowance of extra time, according to a release from city spokesman Laurence Grotheer.

The following street closures are scheduled from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to accommodate Yale University commencement exercises:

Elm Street, between York and College streets; College Street, between Grove and Chapel streets; and High Street, between Elm and Chapel streets.

In addition, officials said a planned protest march could impact Dixwell Avenue, beginning at Webster Street; Broadway; York Street, between Elm and Grove streets; Grove Street, between York and Temple streets; and Temple Street, between Grove and Elm streets.

Protest organizers said that after marching, they plan a rally on the lower New Haven Green.

But let’s get back to the DOT and its “Interstate Impacts” between Friday and May 26.

There will be daytime rolling shoulder closures occurring on I-95, I-91, Route 34 and the surrounding interchange between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The work is necessary to facilitate the completion of project punch list items, the DOT said.

Nighttime rolling lane closures and ramp closures will occur on I-95, I-91, Route 34 and the surrounding interchange between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. At least one travel lane will be maintained, the DOT said in the release.

City officials said they are working collaboratively with Yale University officials and protest organizers to ensure public safety, minimal disruption and peaceful coexistence throughout Monday’s proceedings.

“Yale is making plans to ensure that our graduates and their guests have a positive celebration this weekend,” said Tom Conroy, director of Public Affairs & Communications at Yale. “We will notify them of anything they need to know to make their visit as pleasant as possible and to minimize any inconvenience. Part of the planning involves coordination with the city of New Haven regarding the influx of people.”

An emergency order no parking ban has been placed on several roadways due to Yale’s commencement.

People will be unable to park on certain sections of College and High streets on Sunday and Monday while sections of Amistad Street, Washington Avenue, the south side of Elm Street and both sides of Cedar Street will not allow parking on just Monday.

Police and the city also are working in conjunction with Local 33 to find a solution that works for both sides.

While city officials understand that Local 33 has the right to protest peaceably, Rick Fontana, deputy director of New Haven’s Office of Emergency Management, said officials are concerned about public safety, advising residents to avoid the areas where there are scheduled road closures.

New Haven police also issued an emergency parking ban Saturday through Monday on the north side of Chapel Street as well as the east and west sides of High Street.

Fontana said hopefully roads will be open by 1 p.m. Monday.

Several hotels have limited to no availability this weekend. The Courtyard New Haven at Yale is completely booked while The Study at Yale only has rooms available Saturday but not Sunday. The Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale requires a three-night minimum this weekend.

Some hotels, such as the La Quinta Inn & Suites New Haven and New Haven Hotel, have higher rates this weekend due to the numerous graduation commencements. A clerk at the front desk at the New Haven Hotel said that while she could do $189 for Friday night, Saturday and Sunday would cost $479.