Business owners on Foxon Boulevard have raised a steady drum beat of concern about the increased frequency of the races along the busy roadway. After Saturday night’s arrests, the New Haven Police Department warned in a statement that “any racer or spectator entering a business lot will be arrested for the appropriate charges.”
“We’ve had this problem for some time, but it has also increased over the last few years,” said Gerald M. Antunes, the alderman who represents Quinnipiac Meadows, which includes Foxon Boulevard. “Just think of how many people can be killed being a spectator. My main concern is people getting hurt as well as the noise and the disruption it creates in the ward,” he added.
But cracking down on the illegal sport in New Haven is tricky. Because of the dangers associated with high-speed police chases, the New Haven Police Department has a policy barring officers from chasing after drag racers during a heat. Instead, the police often photograph drag-racing vehicles during the race and then try to stop drivers after the fact.
Still, many residents have called for the police to do more.
“Residents hate it. Businesses hate it. They don’t want kids going down the street at 80 miles per hour,” said Mark Cusanelli, 65, a West Haven resident who witnessed a drag race along Foxon Boulevard three weeks ago.
“There was a bunch of cars and people in the roadway. I was like, ‘Where are the police? Where are they?’”
In 2008, one traffic-calming group, Safe Streets, called for a citywide speed limit of 25 m.p.h. More than 1,600 people, including 30 public officials, signed a petition that proposed the speed limit, along with other measures to discourage reckless driving.
Residents have recently urged lawmakers to increase the number of police officers stationed near the McDonald’s and to build more speed bumps to deter dangerously fast driving. They have also complained that the racers block law-abiding residents from driving on the street at night.