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Friday, June 13, 2014

Norwalk Bridge to Remain Closed? Depends Who’s Talking

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By Mark Pazniokas

UPDATE U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal announced today that a mechanical swing bridge in Norwalk would remain in the closed position indefinitely, providing reliable passage for Metro-North commuter trains while interrupting marine traffic on the Norwalk River. Image
The Norwalk Walk Bridge in open position. NEC Commission photo

But the Connecticut Department of Transportation contradicted the statement hours later, saying the state was continuing to study the best approach to handling a bridge that became stuck in the open position twice in recent weeks, disrupting the busy New Haven rail line. According to ConnDOT, the bridge would not necessarily remain in the closed position.

“Any openings of the bridge for marine traffic will be done using a manual method to ensure that everything works properly,” said Judd Everhart, a DOT spokesman.

Blumenthal’s announcement, which was based on a written advisory from the Coast Guard that called the bridge “inoperable,” caught the DOT and the Malloy administration by surprise on two counts: It broke the news of a state bridge closing and suggested that the DOT had settled on short-term repairs to fix a 118-year-old bridge slated for replacement.

“Connecticut is working with the Coast Guard and Metro-North Railroad to coordinate the best approach to short- and long-term repairs to the Walk railroad bridge in Norwalk,” Everhart said. “We have assembled a team to come up with design plans for short-term repairs within 30 days.”

The Coast Guard made the decision to interrupt the relatively little-used marine route in favor of ensuring that the bridge does not again become stuck in the open position, cutting a busy railway used by 140 trains daily between New Haven and New York City, Blumenthal had said in an emailed statement.

Posted 06/13/14 at 12:44 AM


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<sarcasm warning> I’m glad our elected officials are going to painstakingly evaluate the needs of those who have to use one of America’s last great navigable rivers (the Norwalk River) with the cost of disconnecting New England from the northeast rail corridor. The Norwalk River isn’t the Mississippi. Available detours for those who would otherwise sail or kayak from South Norwalk to Less South Norwalk include walking. That isn’t an option for those who live (and pay taxes) in CT yet earn those needed tax dollars in the robust village surrounding Grand Central Terminal. We could rebuild the bridge, but we need some medium-term solution while we wait for the replacement bridge to be built in the next 120 years.

I would, however, like to give credit where credit is due. Congratulations to Metro-North for avoiding any derailments so far this year. No derailments as of June 13th has to be a record. On a related note, thank you for not conducting any rail cars into the Norwalk River.

Posted by David Krasne on June 13, 2014 at 03:55 PM | #

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