New Haven Downtown Crossing is the City of New Haven’s long term plan to remove the Route 34 expressway and reclaim up to 10 acres of developable land in the heart of the central business and medical districts. Phase 1, College Street, is now complete. The $35.05 million project enabled construction of the 495,000 sf world headquarters of Alexion Pharmaceuticals at 100 College Street. Pursuant to a Development Agreement, the City packaged local, state and federal TIGER 2 funds to close the first three highway exits, adjust local traffic patterns and introduce the first wave of bike and pedestrian friendly improvements in the highway corridor.
This project defines innovation in urban planning and development. Built in 1950, the Route 34 Connector has divided New Haven's Downtown and its Medical District and Hill neighborhoods. The highway, often perceived as a limiting structure, was re-envisioned as a modern urban boulevard.
With over 1,500 employees, Alexion is symbolic of the social- and economic benefits associated with Downtown Crossing and the national movement to address aging highway expressways. The transformed city streets are designed at a scale suitable and safe for all forms of transportation: pedestrians, bikes, public transit, and vehicles. With the opening of 100 College Street, developers are more eager to build on the recent success. Phase 2 (Orange Street) involves a partnership with Live, Work, Learn, Play (a development company from Montréal) to construct a mixed-use project on the Coliseum site. The City recently was awarded a USDOT TIGER 8 grant for project completion, which involves the Temple Street crossing and the opening up of the final two development sites.
Without the psychological boundary of Rte. 34, the area is no longer a divided New Haven.