Derby-Shelton Bridge will remain open during spring upgrades

SHELTON — The long-discussed work on the Derby-Shelton bridge over the Housatonic River will begin this week.

The state Department of Transportation announced last week that the repair and reconfiguration of the bridge — primarily intended to improve access for both cyclists and pedestrians — will start April 1.

The proposed work, according to state officials, includes the moving several utilities and an overall realignment of traffic with a final configuration of three 11-foot travel lanes, two sidewalks — 5-foot and roughly 8-foot — and a 10-foot bike lane.

The parapets will be built to meet new safety standards with the current historic shape and finish. The existing lighting will also be upgraded and include decorative light standards.

Emergency Management Director Michael Maglione said Bridge Street, between Howe Avenue and Route 34 in Derby, will be open for two-way traffic.

Mohawk Northeast, Inc. Construction, which won the $6.3 million contract for the work, will maintain a minimum of one 11-foot travel lane in each direction during construction.

“Mohawk has shown a willingness to work on the bridge following the best safety measures possible while helping to maintain a normal traffic flow,” Maglione said.

Work will begin on the northern side of the structure and progress to the center of the bridge and finish with the reconstruction of the southern parapet. Access to and from the Derby Greenway will be maintained except during the actual construction of an upgraded access point, officials said.

Mohawk’s bid was almost $1.5 million below its pre-bid estimate on the work, completion of which should be November 2023, officials said.

“I am pleased we were able to secure the funds, and I want to thank the Bond Commission for its assistance in making this grant a reality,” state Rep. Jason Perillo, R-113, said.

Perillo acknowledged the assistance of Rick Dunne, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments executive director, and Jim Ryan, formerly the president of the Shelton Economic Development Corporation, for “their invaluable assistance in moving this project forward.

“The Derby-Shelton Bridge has tremendous historic value,” Perillo said. “It was built in 1918 and is one of only a dozen concrete arch bridges in the state. It originally carried two sets of trolley tracks in addition to the vehicular lanes.

“This work will help restore the bridge to its original historic feel and will complement in-process redevelopment projects in downtown Shelton,” Perillo said.

The project is designed to create an aesthetically pleasing public space along the Derby-Shelton Bridge and provide an attractive gateway that is pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly to the downtown areas, according to Dunne.

Initial funding to get the project started was obtained through the efforts of Perillo and fellow state Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria along with former state Reps. Themis Klarides and Linda Gentile.

The project design was performed by AECOM under contract with NVCOG. Details include the replacement of bridge parapet walls, the removal of existing lighting and replacement with period-style light, colored LED “up-lighting” that will accent the archways and parapets from below the bridge, a second travel lane for traffic heading to Derby, new pavement and curbing, and the shifting of the travel lanes to accommodate wider sidewalks on the south side of the bridge and a cycle track.

The project marks the second major element of a three-part plan developed by the NVCOG to improve traffic flow and pedestrian experience connecting Derby and Shelton, Dunne said.

“Beginning with the expansion of the Atwater Bridge crossing of the Naugatuck River on Route 34, which was completed in 2017, the three projects span two rivers from the east bank of the Naugatuck River through downtown Derby and across to the west bank of the Housatonic River at Canal Street in Shelton,” Dunne said.

The final phase, Dunne said, is a complete reconstruction of Main and lower Elizabeth streets in Derby, which will be advertised for bid by July 2021. The Main Street project is expected to be completed in 2024.

The Derby-Shelton Bridge project will also offer connectivity with the existing Housatonic Riverwalk trail network in Shelton and the Naugatuck River Greenway in Derby. The project limits will extend from the Bridge Street intersection with Main Street in Derby to the west end of the Derby-Shelton Bridge and along the southeast ramp to Canal Street.