Downtown Crossing is a City of New Haven infrastructure project that rebuilds the former Route 34 expressway into a system of urban boulevards, reestablishes the urban street grid by reconnecting the city streets, and reclaims portions of land that had long been unavailable for development due to the expressway right-of-way.
Downtown Crossing Full Build Benefits
- New development opportunities with the reclamation of approximately 10 acres of developable land.
- Improved safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Restoration of the urban street grid will improve mobility between Downtown New Haven, the Hill Neighborhood, the Medical District, and Union Station.
- Reduced need for automobiles can reduce congestion, providing public health and environmental benefits.
All project elements are designed to New Haven Complete Streets standards and support economic development in New Haven, particularly in the growing health sciences industry. The project relieves congestion, promotes direct and indirect economic development, addresses local flooding, improves traffic flow, enhances livability, and dramatically improves safety for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
When complete, Downtown Crossing will:
- Remove the former Route 34 limited access expressway and replace it with urban boulevards with a lower speed limit (25 MPH), streetscape improvements, bike lanes and traffic calming measures;
- Reconnect two streets (Orange and Temple) that had been severed by the former Route 34 expressway, in a manner that supports pedestrian, bicyclist and motor vehicle use;
- Reclaim approximately 10 acres of developable land; and
- Restore connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists between Downtown New Haven, the Medical District, Union Station and the Hill neighborhoods.
The Downtown Crossing project facilitates new mixed-use and mixed-income development opportunities, on land reclaimed from the highway right-of-way, in support of New Haven’s sustainable growth objectives and provides both the City and the region economic, environmental, and social benefits.
Phase 1: From Expressway to Urban Boulevards
Phase 1, which began in 2013 and was completed in 2016, rebuilt former Route 34, converting the route from an expressway into an urban boulevard system comprised of two one-way roadways, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK Jr.) Boulevard heading west and South Frontage Road heading east. The driving lanes on MLK Jr. Boulevard and South Frontage Road have been narrowed to slow traffic, and the speed limit lowered to 25 miles per hour.
Below-grade roads were constructed to serve as access roads to and from the Air Rights Garage, over which College Street was reconstructed with bicycle and pedestrian-friendly improvements. As a result of Phase 1 infrastructure work, approximately 2.4 acres of developable land was reclaimed, allowing for private investment and the construction of a 14-story, 450,000 square foot research facility located at 100 College Street.
Rendering of a public plaza abutting the new Orange Street intersection
In early 2016, New Haven celebrated the completion of Phase 1 of Downtown Crossing, which culminated in Alexion Pharmaceuticals moving in to the new 495,000 s.f. med/lab office building at 100 College Street. Following a recent company restructuring, 100 College Street is now home to Alexion’s Global Center for Research Excellence. With 450 employees on site, Alexion is the largest single research facility in New Haven.
Rendering of Downtown Crossing at project completion
Phase 2 will connect Orange Street to South Orange Street across the former Route 34 corridor with at-grade intersections, with traffic calming and infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, including the first protected bike intersection in the State of Connecticut.
Phase 2: Orange Street Reconnected to South Orange Street
Phase 2 of Downtown Crossing will reconnect Orange Street to South Orange Street with an at-grade intersection and will include roadway improvements that support bike and pedestrian use, in addition to motor vehicles. Phase 2 includes infrastructure adjustments that will allow a mixed-use development of residential, office, ground level retail, and public spaces to be built (by new urbanist developers Live Work Learn Play) on the 4.85-acre site where the New Haven Coliseum once stood. Phase 2 construction is planned to begin in 2018 and be completed in 2020.
Phase 2 includes a public art installation on Union Avenue.
Phase 3: Temple Street Extended to Congress Avenue
Phase 3 will connect Temple Street to Congress Avenue with a bridge that will include 15-foot sidewalks on the west and a public plaza on the east, as well as 6-foot wide bike lanes that will be separated from traffic by a two-foot buffer zone. Phase 3 construction will enable access to two land parcels for new development: 1.63 acres between College and Temple Streets and 1.23 acres between Temple and Church Streets.
Phase 3, the final component of Downtown Crossing, will connect Temple Street across the Route 34 corridor to Congress Avenue. Phase 3 will also include traffic calming measures and pedestrian and bicyclist safety features for MLK Jr. Boulevard and South Frontage Road, and will reclaim additional acreage of developable land.Together, the phases of Downtown Crossing will restore connectivity between New Haven’s neighborhoods on streets designed for multiple modes of transportation and reclaim additional acres of developable land, restoring the urban street grid that was removed for the construction of the Oak Street Connector. Phase 3 construction is anticipated to begin in 2020 and be completed in 2023.