A New Gateway To The Heart Of Derby?

No offense people, but driving east into downtown Derby on Route 34 near the Derby-Shelton bridge isn’t exactly awe-inspiring.

The Cohen and Thomas building is beautiful, as is Twisted Vine. But look across the street — concrete barriers, then a chain-link fence. They’re needed to protect you from the bone-snapping hill that separates Main Street from the tranquility of Derby’s Riverwalk.

That south side of street — it’s a place you just want to drive past.

Well, the plans on file at the Valley Council of Governments office next to the Derby train station show something different.


  • A two-lane road in both directions from the bridge to the area of Home Depot.
  • Small “gateway plazas” or green spaces (the site of one is pictured below) on each end of Main Street that will give off the vibe, ‘Hey, you’re entering the heart of Derby.’

Future Plaza

  • Turning lanes, designed to improve traffic flow on the road, which sees some 19,000 vehicles a day. Wider sidewalks.
  • Clearly marked, brick crosswalks that “bump out” into the road.
  • Tree-lined medians the entire length of the road, so people won’t have to run across four lanes of traffic.
  • Decorative lighting, neo-antique.
  • A new parking lot off Main Street close to the bridge with better access to Main Street than a current parking lot off the Derby-Shelton bridge.
  • Elizabeth Street (below), one way south (toward Route 34) from Third Street

Elizabeth Street

  • Minerva Street (below), one way north (away from Route 34) up to Third Street

Minerva Street

Want to hear more? Don’t believe a word we say?

Then come to Derby City Hall on Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. to look at the plans for yourself. Then stick around for the 6:30 p.m. public hearing on the estimated $10 to $12 million project.

Officials from the Valley Council of Governments and the state Department of Transportation will be there to answer questions about the project.

The design part of the project is at “30 percent,” in engineering logo.

That means nothing is set in stone yet, according to Rick Dunne, executive director of the Valley Council of Governments.

“What does the public like? What would they like done differently? That’s what we’re looking for,” Dunne said. “We are proposing concepts and ideas. We are looking for feed back.”

The plan calls for Route 34 to be widened on the south side of the road — that is, the side of the road closest to the Housatonic River.

To accomplish that, the state will attempt to take over properties to make room for the new road.

Main Street Buildings

A preliminary design report from December 2010 does not give specific addresses, but lists the names of the property owners.

Generally speaking, the cluster of buildings on the south side of Main Street across from the Nutty Company on Main Street.

The properties to be taken, according to the 2010 document:

  • A commercial building on Main Street owned by 176 Main Street Associates, LLC
  • A residential property on Main Street owned by 140 Main Street – Derby LLC
  • A combination commercial and residential building on Main Street owned by Richard G. Kastens
  • A combination commercial and residential building on Main Street owned by Stefan Gebuza
  • A combination commercial and residential building on Main Street owned by William Griffin
  • A commercial building on Main Street owned by 106 Main Street

Copies of the Route 34 plans are available in the town’s clerk’s office in Derby City Hall, at the Valley Council of Governments and at the state DOT in Hartford.

Route 34 Plans


posted by: Truman on July 25, 2011  11:25am

True, it is to early to speculate, but at least they have a plan/vision to improve the area. You could be in Ansonia where everything in the Main St area looks like it was last touched in the 1970’s.

posted by: William DeRosa on July 25, 2011  2:27pm

Unless they make this place business friendly, and incorporate some new businesses, it’s make up on a pig. It must be sustainable and a place people want to STAY…not just drive through.

posted by: TomH on July 25, 2011  3:59pm

I think the important direction of DOT is traffic flow, not so much economic development.  That said, better traffic flow yields better economic development for a corridor.

The traffic islands have a calming factor and provide sense of place.  They will not work aesthetically if they are an asphalt raised area like in front of Home Depot.  Aesthetics are an important aspect to creating a sense of “place” for downtown.

Turning lanes are important to maintain flow, as the left turners at Nutty Company when going Rte34E have proven: one car waiting for a traffic gap can compound delays behind it for those desiring straight.

Hard to see clarity on scribd doc regarding pedestrian components or streetside parking, but I assume they are there.  Development of downtown will excel if there is easy pedestrian access to the train station as a transport hub.

Parking off MainSt coming back onto Rte34 near Elizabeth St will be a challenge for grade - but there would be a lot of grade work needed for this whole operation.

DOT $$ budget? This looks like it needs Federal horsepower.  Impact helps Shelton also, because CanalSt residents looking to commute south on Rte8 would jump across BridgeSt, then right on Rte34E, then Rte8S.  It’s a regional benefit.

Unsure on turning lane and island need for Rte34E near Caroline St.  That’s already a 1way going down the cobblestones.  Do agree with Minerva 1way uphill till 3rd St, and Elizabeth being 1way downhill from 3rd St.  Just ensure the turning radius are enough for truck/trailers.

posted by: Art Stone on July 26, 2011  6:48pm

Just imagine a Derby without families with children, dog poop vigilantes, empty businesses, no industry, bars that attract fights with out of towners at closing time, few jobs, drug gangs trying to kill each other and no tax base - you can do it if you try.

How will this change affect the delivery trucks that constantly are allowed to double part in the middle of Elizabeth street during the day?