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