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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Neglected Bridge Makes Deferred Maintenance a Losing Bet

By Mark Pazniokas and Ana Radelat

www.ctmirror.org

The faltering rail bridge in Norwalk poses a political and transportation crisis for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, whose only immediate salvation is winning an intense, multi-state competition for federal transit funds that could expedite the bridge’s long-delayed replacement.

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The Norwalk Walk Bridge in open position. NEC Commission photo

Connecticut is now competing with a dozen states and even Metro-North’s parent, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for a share of a $3 billion Federal Transit Administration fund created by Congress in the 2012 Hurricane Sandy relief bill. To replace the bridge, the state is seeking $349 million, more than 10 percent of the entire fund.

If the application fails, there is no other ready funding source for a project estimated to cost $465 million in state and federal funding.

By making replacement of an 118-year-old bridge a second-term funding priority, Malloy took a gamble won by other governors, but not him. Twice in recent weeks, the mechanical swing bridge opened for marine traffic and failed to close, interrupting Metro-North and Amtrak service for hours at a time.

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