Construction on the Route 34 widening project through downtown Derby is scheduled to start in the late summer or early fall of 2017, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said last week.
In recent months the state reached out to property owners along the road — known locally as Main Street — to start negotiations to “take” several buildings that will be torn down to make room for the expanded Main Street.
The DOT’s action was an important step forward for the estimated $14 million project, which has been in the planning stages for years.
The widening project, once completed, is supposed to give downtown Derby a major facelift between the Derby-Shelton bridge and the ramps to Route 8.
The plan calls for additional travel and turning lanes, along with a series of aesthetic and pedestrian improvements to Derby’s busiest road.
In addition to morel travel lanes, the plan is to change the traffic patterns for the roads in Derby that feed Main Street.
The plan calls for Elizabeth Street to become a one-way road heading south (toward Route 34) from Third Street.
The plan calls for Minerva Street to become one-way north (heading away from Route 34) up to Third Street.
Construction will take at least two years.
Click play on the video below to watch a summary of the project aired recently by WTNH:
Plans for the project are still being tweaked, according to an email from Kevin Nursick, the spokesman for the state DOT. The final design stage for the project is slated to start in the fall.
The DOT will negotiate to purchase eight properties along the south side of Main Street in order to raze buildings and expand the road.
The owners dealing with the DOT are:
- 176 Main Street Associates, LLC
- Calco of Caroline St. LLC
- Clark Development, LLC
- 140 Main Street-Derby, LLC
- Joseph F. Oliwa
- 130 Main St. LLC.
- Stefan Gebuza, et al
- Belrose Projects, S.A.
“There will also be six to 11 partial acquisitions/easements needed as well. Letters have not been sent on these yet,” Nursick said.
Several of the business along the road have been told they’ll need to find new locations.
Click play on the video below to watch an interview with Kathleen Conroy Cass, owner of St. Anthony’s Book and Gift Shop on Main Street. Cass has been trying to move her store to Derby Avenue in Orange but has run into roadblocks from planning officials there.
The widening project isn’t the only improvement project on tap for the downtown Derby area.
In late July, the state authorized spending $2 million to rehab the bridge that connects Main Street in Derby to Howe Avenue in Shelton.
The grant goes to the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments and will go toward resurfacing the bridge, installing new lights, along with the addition of bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
The Council of Governments also played a key role in the Route 34 expansion.
Rick Dunne, the council’s executive director, said the expanded road is a huge plus for Derby.
He said the road’s new design will be better able to handle peak traffic flows. In addition, it will be easier for pedestrians or people riding bicycles to get to the train station in Derby — especially from the hundreds of new apartments lining Canal Street in Shelton.
Dunne said the new traffic signals on Route 34 will include video cameras that can be used by local traffic authorities or state transportation officials to adjust the lights based on traffic flow.
“It’s like putting traffic cops out there at rush hour. But we only install the system; it would be up to CTDOT or local traffic operations to connect,” Dunne said in an email.