Early Story about the Greenway Project
The City of Derby has moved from dream to completion of the Greenway that will ring the downtown area of Derby from the Derby/Shelton Bridge on the Housatonic River to the Division Street Bridge on the Naugatuck River. It is quite fitting that the city undertook construction of this project just as it remembered the 50th anniversary of the 1955 floods which devastated the area and turned both rivers into wild streams that provided unbelievable destruction along their paths.
The exciting plan promises to provide the public with a whole new appreciation for the rivers that have been such an important part of the city's rich history. Where the two rivers were once the focal point for transportation and industry (and even natural disaster!!), they will now be part of a new chapter where their scenic beauty and recreational potential will enhance the quality of life in the community and frame a revitalized downtown.
The picture to the left shows one of the proposed gateways to the trail at the corner of Main Street next to the Derby/Shelton Bridge. Walkers, runners, in-line skaters and bicyclists will share a 10 foot wide path along the top of the dike running southeast along the Housatonic River. The trail will then leave the dike and wind down to the boat launch area under the Commodore Hull (Rt. 8) Bridge. A public parking area and upgraded boat launch will serve as another public gateway to the trail.
The trail will then navigate its way through both O'Sullivan's and Hogs Islands with a combination of paved and ash trails. The paved area will be somewhat elevated to avoid potential tidal issues as the river rises and falls with the tides. An additional feature near this area will be a gateway across the Naugatuck River on Rt. 34 in "East" Derby. The parking lot will be on state land next to Crystal Cleaners next to the railroad trestle. Those parking in that area will use the empty bay on the railroad trestle to cross the Naugatuck River to access the main trail. (This feature has been postponed and will be redesigned in the Phase III plans which will extend the Greenway down the Housatonic River to Orange. Click here to read about this great new step!)
The greenway then heads back to the downtown area and crosses under Rts. 8 & 34 near the current railroad station. This is one of the trickiest parts and required special design work to isolate the railroad tracks from those using the Greenway. After passing through this part, users of the Greenway will climb back on top of the dike for an uneventful trip up the Naugatuck River to the Ansonia line at Division Street where they will exit the trail in a public parking area that will be constructed on land being donated to the city by the owner's of BJ's Wholesale Club. Designers have considered the future extension of the trail into Ansonia as well (Ansonia has now received funding for this and Shelton has received funding to extend their River Walk as well!). The State of Connecticut has incorporated design features to the underside of the new Division Street bridge for an under-bridge crossing to link with a future Ansonia link in a trail that could eventually extend all the way up the Naugatuck River to Waterbury and beyond. A similar plan for a trail extending along the Housatonic River is also under development.
All told, the paved area of the Derby Greenway will be approximately 2 miles with another 1/2 mile of unpaved trail running in the O'Sullivan Island area. The Greenway will also pass next to all six of the bridges and railroad trestles that span the two rivers.
Information from construction phase of the Greenway
Though it is not officially open, the Derby Greenway has become a major success as hundreds of visitors have been flocking to it on a daily basis since early summer for exercise and serenity. With the footbridge over the rail trestle to Shelton now in place, the bulk of the construction is now complete and the 1.7 mile trail is now an unbroken ribbon framing the old Borough of Birmingham in the center of Connecticut's smallest city. The trail runs from the corner of Main & Bridge Street in the downtown area to Division Street. The paving of the footbridge is not slated for completion until spring, 2006. However, the rest of the trail is being used extensively.
Map showing the Greenway (red) ringing the old Borough of Birmingham!
Click on pictures for larger images!
Click here for a satellite picture and map showing elevations on the trail
After years of dreaming and planning, the City of Derby officially broke ground for the construction of the new Derby Greenway on June 21, 2005 - the first day of summer! In a brief ceremony atop the flood control wall on the Naugatuck River near Division Street, city officials headed by Mayor Marc Garofalo lifted the first shovels of dirt and commented on the future impact of the unique project. All looked forward to the completion of the project and an official grand opening when the project is complete. Milone and MacBroom of Cheshire with Mike Joyce in the lead designed and managed the construction of the project which is being built by Schultz Construction.
Little did they realize that long before the project is completed, it is already a major hit with hundreds of people traversing the mostly completed portions along the Naugatuck River and O'Sullivan's Island. Much work remains to be done especially on the Housatonic River. A ramp and main entrance at the corner of Main and Bridge Street are still under construction as well. Signage still remains to be completed as well.