House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-114), and State Representatives Jason Perillo (R-113) and Ben McGorty (R-122) have announced that the State Bond Commission has authorized $2 million for rehabilitation of the Derby-Shelton Bridge.

The funds will provide grant-in-aid to the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (VCOG) to finance the rehabilitation of the bridge, which spans the Housatonic River between the two towns.  The project includes resurfacing of the bridge’s deck, installation of new lighting, and the addition of bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

“This span is vital to the entire region for both commuters and for economic expansion. Thousands of motorists rely on this bridge to get back and forth to work and to home. We appreciate the investment in this project,’’ Rep. Klarides said.

“The Derby-Shelton Bridge has tremendous historic value,” said Rep. Perillo.  “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 efforts in Shelton. 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. I’d also like to thank Rick Dunne, Executive Director of the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments and Jim Ryan, President of the Shelton Economic Development Corporation for their invaluable assistance in moving this project forward."

“The rehabilitation of this bridge is one of the key elements to revitalizing the downtowns in both Shelton and Derby,” said Rep. McGorty.  “By creating greater accessibility on this bridge for foot and bike traffic we are expanding access to our local shops and restaurants.  Having a viable conduit between the two of them will vastly improve economic development in both towns.”

A study unveiled last autumn by the VCOG noted that Derby and Shelton should do more to link their respective downtown areas, particularly by improving the connection between them with “transit-oriented development” including making the area friendlier to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.  The improvements to the bridge are a critical element to the overall plan.

The three legislators worked in concert with the Department of Transportation and administration officials to secure the funding.  The planned improvements are expected to begin in 2017.