DERBY, Conn. (WTNH) — A project to widen Route 34 in Derby just got a big boost.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced a $5 million in additional federal funding Thursday morning. The widening is part of a larger revitalization project of Connecticut’s smallest city.
Around 20,000 cars and trucks squeeze through Derby on two lanes of Route 34 every day.
“As you can see, and probably hear, this is an incredibly busy roadway, and improving and widening will only strengthen the community of Derby,” State Rep. Mary Welander (D-Derby) said at a press conference outside Derby city hall.
“The 34 project helps reduce traffic bottlenecks, improves safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, and creates connections to the Naugatuck River Greenway,” said John Dunham, the Construction Administrator for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
It will also add more travel and turn lanes, medians and parking. Nearby, work is already well underway to improve the bridge over the Housatonic River to Shelton. Economic development is the end goal, especially of the 14 acres of waterfront property the city owns just off 34, but there are other projects in the works, as well.
“Right now we have a 78-unit project behind you where the old LifeTouch building was,” explained Mayor Richard Dziekan (R-Derby). “We have another 78 unit building that is up on Caroline Street.”
Years after they knocked down the buildings that used to line Route 34, the hope is improvements are on track this time.
“To really revitalize this area, we want this area to be a place where people can work, live and play,” said State Rep. Kara Rochelle (D-Derby). “This is going to be able to be accomplished now with these funds.”
Tomato plants now grow where the old sidewalk used to be on the south side of the road. The question is, when will all the work bear some fruit?”