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Lamont promises to reconsider Walk Bridge replacement plans

The Walk Bridge over the Norwalk River was completed in 1896 and swings open to allow marine traffic to pass. ConnDOT is working on replacing the bridge with a lift bridge. Critics have called the replacement too costly.

Updated 2:15 p.m.: Additional information on bridge height. 11:14 a.m.: Added statement confirming bridge length, and photo.  9:30 a.m.: According to Mike Mushak, Jason Milligan incorrectly stated the replacement bridge’s height as 240 feet, which is actually the length.    

 

NORWALK, Conn. – Gov. Ned Lamont promised Tuesday to “take another look at the Walk Bridge” and empathized with concerns expressed by critics of the massive bridge replacement project.

Lamont addressed the 130th annual Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce Dinner, at LaKota Oaks, and touched on the state economy and plans for the future. At the end of his speech, he took a question from real estate broker Jason Milligan, who asked if the “billion-dollar boondoggle bridge” is a “closed case.”

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story

Information on the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Walk Bridge website.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is working to replace the aged railroad bridge over the Norwalk River. The bridge replacement itself is estimated to cost $511 million. A related project to create switching tracks in East Norwalk is estimated at $242 million and a Danbury Dockyard project is $89 million. ConnDOT also plans to replace other Norwalk railroad bridges for a total $1.2 billion “Walk Bridge Replacement Program” cost.

Lamont, on his 90th day in office, said he had talked with Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling about the bridge. The planned lift bridge, which opens to allow marine traffic to pass, is very expensive and would accommodate “the occasional sailboat,” he said.

“All of which are reasons to say, ‘This is crazy, this is the type of boondoggle that makes people really cynical about government,’” Lamont said.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao explained to him that the Norwalk River is a federally certified navigable waterway, and it would take up to five years for the U.S. Coast Guard to change that designation, he said.

“I haven’t made up my mind on that,” Lamont said. “It’s an important bridge to keep rail moving fast and upgrade our transportation system, but I share a lot of the same distress that you do, that this is not the way to run a railroad.”

Rilling did not reply to a Wednesday evening email asking him to respond to Lamont’s comments. He supported ConnDOT’s plans in a recently published opinion.

“It might be politically advantageous for me to jump on the bandwagon of the vocal minority and call for a stop to this plan,” Rilling wrote. “However, I have spent a lot of time learning about this project, its impact on Norwalk, and have concluded that a moveable bridge is the most effective and least disruptive option.”

Opponents of a lift bridge say that there isn’t enough marine traffic to warrant the massive lift bridge design put forth by ConnDOT and argue in favor of a fixed bridge.

Milligan on Wednesday incorrectly described the proposed lift bridge’s height as 240 feet or “approximately 24 stories,” in comparison to the 14 stories at 50 Washington St. and the 6-story-tall Maritime Aquarium IMAX Theater.

“’Harry’s Bridge’ will stand 18 stories above the Imax theater,” Milligan wrote. “It will dominate everything. Forget about the charm and character of the historical maritime village. The area name should change from SONO to ‘Harry’s Bridge’ or Bridge port.”

The official Walk Bridge Replacement Program’s web site contains a fact sheet which refers to the replacement bridge as a “240’ Vertical Lift Bridge.”  In a Thursday morning comment, planning commissioner Mike Mushak wrote that 240 feet is the length of the span, not the height.  NoN requested a clarification from ConnDOT, and at 10:48 a.m. Thursday received a statement from Nicolas Negron-Phillips of WSP.

“This figure in the 240’ Span Vertical Lift Bridge refers to the span, or width, of the bridge. The lift towers on the Walk Bridge Replacement are 150’ from track elevation. For comparison, this is nearly 85’ shorter than the nearby 234’ high Eversource power line towers,” Negron-Phillips wrote.

WSP is the Program Management Consultant for the Walk Bridge Program, according to the walkbridgect.com web site.

A rendering of the lift bridge set to replace the 1896-built swing bridge over the Norwalk river. The replacement will be 85 feet shorter than the nearby Eversource towers.  (Contributed)

“The lift bridge’s towers are 150 feet above the level of the railroad tracks. This is nearly 100 feet shorter than the existing high towers, which are removed as part of the project,” the Walk Bridge website states.

Milligan is currently fighting a lawsuit filed by the City and its Redevelopment Agency which contends that his purchase of properties which were part of a Wall Street-area redevelopment project was illegal.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) in 2016 said it was possible to change the river’s designation, but Rilling and the Common Council would have to ask for it to be done.

“If Norwalk decides that’s the right way to go, that would involve buying out all those businesses upstream of the bridge, I will go to work with the Army Corps of Engineers with the federal government, to take away that navigability,” Himes said, in 2016.

The river currently remains navigable for about one mile north of the bridge.  One industrial user north of the bridge uses barges which need the current bridge to open, and supporters of the project have said that removing navigability north of the bridge would require compensating each property owner for the loss of value which would result.

“The latest focus on a navigable waterway designation, which is not as simple as some describe, is just the latest attempt to distract from the real issue we should be discussing: How can this project be completed quickly with the least amount of disruption? Which is: the current design,” Rilling wrote in the recent op-ed.

ConnDOT’s Walk Bridge plan is being challenged in federal court by Norwalk Harbor Keeper, a non-profit citizens group, on the basis that the State has not adequately established the need for a bridge that opens instead of a fixed bridge.

A movable bridge was required in the 1880s, when there was booming industrial traffic, but isn’t needed now, Harbor Keeper states.

“State DOT failed to ever study boat traffic north of Walk Bridge, instead erroneously relying on marine traffic statistics for the whole harbor,” Fred Krupp of Harbor Keeper said in a December statement. “It has ignored the numerous comments against the lift bridge plan from the Norwalk community.”

A lift bridge costs only 11 percent more than a fixed bridge, then-ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker said a year ago.  “Is it really worth shutting off all future maritime uses whatever they may be… for a 11 percent differential?” he asked at the time.

ConnDOT is working to certify its plan as “90 percent design” in June, Department of Public Works DPW Principal Engineer Lisa Burns said in a Wednesday email. The “30 percent design” plans were submitted in March 2017 and the project reached the “60 percent” milestone in July.

Unaffiliated Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton has said she opposes ConnDOT’s planned bridge, which she often describes as the “Walk Bridge boondoggle.”

Changing the river’s status would lead to it silting in because federal dollars for dredging would become unavailable, Harbor Management Commission members said in 2016. More recently, the Commission has said it would be tough to get federal dollars under any circumstance, as dredging is based on need and the availability of funds.

“We do bring in barges. The shoaling that takes place is not conducive to the traffic in the river,” John Pinto said in late 2017.

“I believe a movable bridge and a federally designated navigable waterway is essential for our city,” Rilling wrote in the op-ed. “Having a fixed bridge, and thus removing that designation, would be shortsighted and restrict a prime area of Norwalk from future opportunities. The waterfront is a defining characteristic of Norwalk, which is desirable to residents, businesses, and tourists.”

 

‘Business guy’ governor promises leaner state government

Lamont called himself “the first business guy that’s had the opportunity to lead the state going back an awful long time,” and said he had put forth one of the first honestly balanced budgets “in an awful long time in this state.”

His much-publicized “debt diet” led to the “shortest” State Bond Commission meeting “in recorded history” Tuesday, he said.  Connecticut will be investing in growth and economic opportunities but there will be 50-70 percent less bonding than has been done in recent years, he added.

“There’s an awful lot of ‘nice to haves’ out there and, Harry (Rilling), I love you man but we’ll do what we can for Norwalk, but the ‘nice to haves’ you’ll have to take care of yourself, man,” he said.

A third of the State government’s workforce is expected to retire over the next three or four years, he said.  “We are just getting started and your state government is going to look very different over the next four and eight years, given that opportunity. A smaller, leaner state government delivering a much better customer service to folks that need it.”

27 comments

Lisa Brinton April 4, 2019 at 6:17 am

Even the governor is willing to reconsider this financial, ecological and aesthetic disaster that will destroy Norwalk’s skyline for 100 years! Why does Harry think bigger is better? Bigger bridge, bigger population, bigger apartments, bigger tax credits, bigger staff, bigger government. #justsayno

Jason Milligan April 4, 2019 at 8:12 am

At 240 feet the Boondoggle would be 90 feet taller than Norwalk’s 2 tallest buildings.

It would be 200 feet & 20 stories taller than the average Washington St charming historic building.

That bridge would be so huge and out of place that it would forever ruin SONO. Norwalk would be the butt of many jokes. The sheer size of this lift bridge has not been properly explained or demonstrated.

For reference the Tappan Zee Bridge was 293 feet tall, and 3 miles long.

How about DOT or Public Works puts the big balloons up to 240 feet like is done with potential cell towers, so the people can see how tall it would be?

What is CP243 Interlocking? It is $211 million. Is it needed if there is not a new lift bridge?

Who thinks that the bridge will come in on time and on budget? NO Chance!

Since it will be so huge, so disruptive and so expensive let’s have a 3rd party engineer come in to give an independent review.

It is annoying when people say the decision is made. Clearly it is not! Both the Governor & Senator Himes have said they are open to other ideas and they also basically said that this bridge is up to the Mayor.

Dredging seems the river seems to be the most agreeable issue. Everyone agrees that the river should continue to be dredged. Dredging can take place regardless of the type of bridge and regardless of the designation of the waterway. It is just a matter of who pays for it. I believe the last dredging cost $20 million which is peanuts compared to this project.

The designation as a navigable waterway is a typical vague government term. It is kind of like “Blight”! Nowhere in the definition does it require lift bridges. I don’t believe that the clearance under bridges is even a set standard.

So the question is if the current bridge just remained closed would it be possible to keep the navigable waterway designation? If yes, than the decision is easy because the actual use of the river has not been argued for but rather just the designation.

Move the 2 sailboats down river. Lock the bridge in place. Weld it. Secure it. Shore up the footings and get it certified as safe. Then Norwalk would have years to see if Industry on the river came roaring back. If it did then at that time a new massive bridge might be justified.

NORWALK SHOULD DEMAND A 3RD PARTY REVIEW!

I’ll bet that Lamont would pay for it. He seems like a reasonable guy.

Kevin Kane April 4, 2019 at 8:14 am

“Proposes to Reconsider” – a promise about as reliable as a screen door on a submarine.
Jason Milligan nails it – succinct comparisons of height absurdity.
Curious – what has been the outcome of the DOT and Harry’s meetings with Devine Brothers on how their business is or is not impacted by the lack or presence of a bridge that can open?

I recall reading the bridge only opened something like 60 times last year or some crazy low amount. Can someone point me to those statistics on how many times it opened?
Also, is the actual time of day, type of boat passing through and perhaps even tide situation on record? Is that data recorded by the person in the booth that is on the IMAX side of the bridge? I’d like to see that data and make sure it is well publicized.
Thanks.

Mike Mushak April 4, 2019 at 8:28 am

The Brinton/Milligan team are astoundingly confusing the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the Walk Bridge. This actually may be intentional, which is not a good sign for the Brinton campaign or for Norwalk.

The bridge is only 150 feet tall above sea level, actually a bit lower than the top of 50 Washington which is about 140 feet tall built 25 feet above sea level.

Milligan’s claim that the bridge will “stand 18 stories above the IMAX Theater” is flat out wrong.

Let’s see how they respond to this latest revelation now that it’s exposed. Public apology perhaps? Stay tuned but don’t get your hopes up.

A few facts:

The HORIZONTAL span is 240 feet, not the VERTICAL height, which is 150 feet. Big difference!

Horizontal is sideways, left to right, like the horizon.
Vertical is up and down, like a utility pole. Practice it until you get it right, because it’s really important to know the difference if you want to lead the city.

The current pair of catenary towers are 240 feet tall, and they will be removed and not replaced.

The new bridge will be 150 feet tall, nearly 100 feet shorter than these current towers, so the skyline of Norwalk will actually be reduced in scale, not increased, and it won’t “destroy Norwalk’s skyline for 100 years!” as Lisa just commented with exclamation. Exaggerate much?

It’s like describing a typical human adult as 18 inches tall and 5 ft-10 inces wide, basically as they are lying in bed and not standing up. Who takes measurements like that?

Imagine that kind of confused leadership in City Hall, who can’t distinguish up and down from sideways. Seriously.

There’s a very funny scene in the film “This is Spinal Tap” where a bunch of stoners in a rock band mess up their stage set design, using the symbol for inches instead of feet when sketching it out while sitting on the back of a bus, and eventually performing around their knee-height minuscule set instead of under it.

This is the same level of the crowd we’re dealing with here. Except they want to lead Norwalk!

Seriously, it is completely irresponsible and almost criminal for misinformation to be deliberately spread to the public about the Walk Bridge by mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton and her main supporter, Jason Milligan.

The Walk Bridge is not a “billion dollar boondoggle”.

It’s a half-billion dollar bridge, and the replacement of 3 other obsolete bridges over a century old and widening of a fourth bridge as well as electrification of a rail yard to improve rail service are all large much-needed projects in themselves that make up the difference.

And there are cost efficiencies of doing all these upgrades at once, and the pain the city will endure in disruptions will be more limited to a few years instead of spread out over decades.

Most importantly, closing the federal channel by building a fixed bridge (that by the way costs almost as much as the movable bridge) would be the biggest planning mistake the city could ever make, encouraging the river to silt up for a mile north of the bridge.

If dredging were desired, Norwalk taxpayers would have to foot the bill entirely, and it would be a lot more expensive with special equipment and barges to fit under the fixed bridge.

This would turn what is now open water into reed-choked mud flats like what happened to the Saugatuck in Westport, increasing flooding damage and removing navigable water access and all recreational use including boating and rowing for all the properties up to Wall St.

Not to mention the environmental disaster of creating a shallow hypoxic dead zone of overheated water and decaying algae blooms and fish kills out of a mile of free flowing river, affecting the ecology of the entire harbor and fish migration upriver just as we are actively removing dams and restoring the Norwalk River watershed upstream.

This huge mistake would also greatly diminish property values not just on the waterfront but beyond that as well, requiring the raising all our taxes to compensate for it.

It would be stupidity taken to a new level, but that’s what Lisa Brinton and her supporters actually want to see happen to Norwalk. Unbelievable.

On a wider note, folks must be held accountable for spreading misleading information to the public for personal gain. This is not just true for the Walk Bridge, but on many other subjects as well.

We have enough misinformation flowing out of Washington these days, and we don’t need it infecting our local politics.

For now, vertical still means up and down, and horizontal still means flat. Let’s keep it that way, please!

EnoPride April 4, 2019 at 9:18 am

Two Governor Lamont quotes that just gave me hope and made my day:

“This is crazy, this is the type of boondoggle that makes people really cynical about government,”

And:

“There’s an awful lot of ‘nice to haves’ out there and, Harry (Rilling), I love you man but we’ll do what we can for Norwalk, but the ‘nice to haves’ you’ll have to take care of yourself, man.”

Yaaassssss!!!!! Governor Lamont sees that Mayor Rilling is passing an elephant through a keyhole by making a larger keyhole. Roasted!

Please kindly stop taking care of your “nice to haves” at the expense and disapproval of your stakeholders, Mayor Rilling and Common Council! The majority opposes this fiscally irresponsible 511 million dollar boondoggle bridge, as they rightly should. In a time when CT should be scaling back and cutting excessive spending, the price tag of this one sailboat accommodating, overwrought bridge forced upon us is unjustifiable and ludicrous. How this Walk Bridge Project has been ill managed is embarrassing. Hopefully, Governor Lamont will call to pull the plug on it.

Thank you Lisa Brinton and Jason Milligan for advocating and giving voice to the Norwalkers who oppose the Walk Bridge Project.

carol April 4, 2019 at 10:07 am

harry will fight this .how many promises were made to get support for an open bridge??
we the people want a closed bridge,we are tired of supporting a few boaters and harry.
we the people do not want to support a few boaters and one or to businesses. there must be a legal way to hold this up.
harry please reconsider what is a bad idea.

Jason Milligan April 4, 2019 at 10:22 am

Mushak

You are funny. I will give you that, but you are full of baloney.

The proposed bridge is hideous and outrageously expensive. It is a Boondoggle Bridge! Whatever the stated price tag is now is also not the final price. No chance.

The justifications given for this bridge are not good enough.

Nobody trusts the conclusions. Senator Himes and Governor Lamont are both willing to explore options.

So should the Harry/Mushak team.

Get a 3rd Party review!

Bryan Meek April 4, 2019 at 10:46 am

Did Mushak take over for Josh Morgan? Where is Josh Morgan?

Will we ever get real statistics on this project? What is the tonnnage of freight brought in? Norwalk Harbor isn’t even on the list of top 100 ports in the country and the bottom of the 100 are a small fraction of the top. Where would Norwalk rank? Port of Baltimore brings in almost 50 million tons. The Chesapeake Bay bridge replacement is estimated at $5 billion. Its 6 miles long and allows the largest size container ships routine passage every day, all day, continuous flows.

What exactly is the billion buying us for a 240 foot span? Where is the money going?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ports_in_the_United_States

Piberman April 4, 2019 at 11:07 am

Mayor Rilling says he’s spent time evaluating the Bridge. Then why not release estimates of the huge costs imposed by several years construction and dislocation on Downtown for the largest public works project in the City’s modern history that will devastate our City. It’s curious the Mayor doesn’t want to make public estimates of costs to public, residents, businesses, Aquarium, City itself. Easy to imagine they’ll be in the tens of millions if not more.

Also curious the Mayor has released no estimates of supposed benefits to the City from future ‘development” of the uptown stream. Nor has he explained why those cities with major industrial waterfronts in CT have lift bridges. Just “little old Norwalk” ! Even Cong. Himes saw the obvious and offered to change the navigation status with the USCG.

On the Boondoggle Bridge just like encouraging more renters into the City with apartments Mayor Rilling is on the wrong side. Why are elected City Democrats are not supporting the Boondoggle ? Maybe they’ve studied the Bridge proposal too !

Lisa Brinton April 4, 2019 at 11:50 am

Mike M., Looking forward to the publication of our photo op – David (Redevelopment Commissioner) You (Planning Commissioner) Jason (Norwalk Commercial Real Estate Owner and POKO Provocateur) and myself (Mayoral Candidate) – or have you already seen fit to destroy that priceless photo 🙂 In-person Mike is so much nicer than keyboard Mike 🙂

Mike Mushak April 4, 2019 at 11:51 am

@Bryan Meek, it would help if you read the article first before commenting.

The bridge is a half billion, not a billion. 3 other obsolete 19th century bridges are being replaced completely (Fort Point, Osborne, and East Ave), and a switching yard is being expanded and electrified that will improve service on the Danbury line and into and out of South Norwalk.

A new fixed bridge will cost almost as much as a movable bridge, so why would Norwalk taxpayers take the hit of absorbing potentially hundreds of millions of future dredging now partially paid for by the federal government, or losing a mile of valuable waterfront properties as the upper river silted in and became a mud flat covered in invasive phragmites reeds which also exposes these properties and neighborhoods to increased flooding, , or paying out potentially hundreds of millions in perpetual lost property value by removing access to a federal channel for every single property north of the bridge, whether they use it now or not?

As a financial brain, why would you ever recommend increasing liabilities on Norwalk taxpayers to the tune of hundreds of millions, to save 10% on the cost of building the movable bridge vs the fixed bridge?

Jason Milligan April 4, 2019 at 12:36 pm

“Harry’s Bridge” is too big!

Find a way to keep the river dredged independent of the size and style of bridge.

Jason Milligan April 4, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Here is a list of the tallest buildings in Norwalk: https://www.emporis.com/statistics/tallest-buildings/city/105297/norwalk-ct-usa

Here are a few at the top:
50 Washington 150 feet
901 Main Ave 147 feet
401, 501, 601 Merritt 7 134 feet

Take away 50 Washington and the Merritt 7 Office tower buildings and Norwalk doesn’t have another building taller than 98 feet.

Washington St is primarily 4 stories.

Harry’s Bridge as designed would make Norwalk a laughingstock.

Jo Bennett April 4, 2019 at 1:27 pm

Having a hard time sifting the facts from fiction here, I went to the Walk Bridge website: http://www.walkbridgect.com/projects/norwalk.aspx

It says of the current bridge: “The 564-foot long, swing bridge is part of Metro-North Railroad’s (MNR) New Haven Line.”

I’m confused, because if the new design will span only 240 feet, we’re going to have a lot more problems than a stuck drawbridge.

It also says “The lift bridge’s towers are 150 feet above the level of the railroad tracks.” I’m assuming that the towers are one of the two in this Hour photo: https://www.thehour.com/news/article/Walk-Bridge-debate-focuses-on-river-s-13658232.php#photo-17011289

If I’m wrong, open to correction!

If so, it seems that the current tower(s) and the proposed towers have very different heights – but also very different footprints.

I think when Mike Mushak wrote “… the skyline of Norwalk will actually be reduced in scale, not increased,” he meant to say “increased,” because a reduced skyline isn’t a better thing. (I say this as someone who grew up in Newport, RI, where we thankfully never had to deal with train tracks or hulking development occluding views of the harbor.)

Mike Mushak April 4, 2019 at 2:07 pm

Anyone can have their questions answered about the Walk Bridge by going to the Walk Bridge office in the Lock Building, opposite the Aquarium where the Thai restaurant used to be.

The gross misinformation being peddled by the Lisa Brinton campaign on this issue is a serious concern that this article and resulting comments highlight.

It’s just sad at this point up see folks just ignore facts and make things up to fit their narrative, even after the facts are presented.

Jo Bennett April 4, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Just saw Nancy’s updates a while earlier on this. When asked for clarification on the height of the new towers, the Walk Bridge consultant offered, “For comparison, this is nearly 85’ shorter than the nearby 234’ high Eversource power line towers.” Are they comparing the power line towers to the WB towers because part of this project is burying power lines? I recall reading something along these lines, but also recall opposition based on harbor health concerns, e.g., having a hospitable environment for shellfish. It would be weird (and ironic) to sacrifice maritime health for the sake of ensuring that the north portion of the harbor could be developed.

Jason Milligan April 4, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Jo,

After reading the website details a few times I think it might be that the span of the portion of the bridge that would be lifting would be 240 feet. ie the distance between the two towers would be 240 feet.

The website is does not do a great job of explaining. It does more selling. I can see how the Hour got confused, and I can see how the average citizen would get confused. I could even understand if the Mayor is confused.

How high above the water, or the ground, or the streets will the new train tracks be? That information is not given. The only figure given is 150 feet above the new tracks. Clearly the tracks will not rest on the water or the ground. They will likely be elevated 20-50 feet above. So instead of 240 feet the Bridge will be 170 to 200 feet.

Jason Milligan April 4, 2019 at 3:15 pm

What is a Navigable Water?

The answer is pretty vague. The Norwalk River currently is designated Navigable. It would take an act of congress to change the designation. (Jim Himes is willing to introduce a bill if that is what is wanted or needed)

I bet that Norwalk can keep the designation as navigable even if the current bridge were welded shut and left as is. Just like Norwalk’s entire downtown can be labeled blighted when it is not.

One source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navigability
A body of water, such as a river, canal or lake, is navigable if it is deep, wide and slow enough for a vessel to pass or walk. Preferably there are few obstructions such as rocks or trees to avoid. Bridges must have sufficient clearance. High water speed may make a channel unnavigable. Waters may be unnavigable because of ice, particularly in winter. Navigability depends on context: A small river may be navigable by smaller craft, such as a motorboat or a kayak, but unnavigable by a cruise ship. Shallow rivers may be made navigable by the installation of locks that increase and regulate water depth, or by dredging.

Harry’s Bridge is a solution looking for a problem.

Time for a 3rd party engineer review.

Matt T April 4, 2019 at 5:10 pm

@Jason-Milligan

“What is CP243 Interlocking? It is $211 million. Is it needed if there is not a new lift bridge?”

https://www.ct.gov/dot/lib/dot/documents/dcommunications/press_release/2017_cp243_factsheet.pdf

Check that document. The CP243 interlocking is a 2200 ft replacement of track interlocking between East Norwalk and Westport, 1.5mi east of the Walk Bridge. Includes new power lines, positive train control (PTC), realignment, etc. This is happening regardless of what happens to the bridge as it helps the New Haven line stay functional and relevant. All other projects like Danbury yard, East Ave replacement, Ann St are also all happening regardless of Walk Bridge due to maintaining 100+ year infrastructure.

It is more accurate to look at the cost for the Walk Bridge ($511 mil) part only and not these other projects that are next to the bridge that happen regardless. I understand that the “Billion dollar Boondoggle” is a great alliteration that sticks, but it is overstating the real costs and confuses the conversation about the added costs.

A better question may be does keeping this design make it cheaper for CT residents due to the presence of federal funding? Maybe it’s more expensive overall but cheaper due to keeping the river “navigable”? It’s worth asking/knowing.

Lastly, aesthetics are a personal preference. The bridge doesn’t look worse than 50 Washington!

Ken April 4, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Here’s the answer keep the current bridge and don’t open it. Cost ZERO DOLLARS. Problem solved.

Otto Delupe April 4, 2019 at 7:06 pm

As a very outspoken Democratic operative/supporter hows a guy like Mr Mushak walk the line of supporting his Governor and his Mayor who appear to have opposing viewpoints?

Piberman April 5, 2019 at 11:19 am

Why is newly elected Gov. Lamont “reconsidering” the Boondoggle Bridge earnestly supported by Mayor Rilling. ? Could it be that the Bridge is preposterous on its face ? None of CT’s major industrial harbors
have lift railroad bridges. Norwalk’s has no industry to speak of. And the Bridge brings absolutely no economic benefits just costs to our City. Could it be facing a $2.5 billion State budget deficit the Boondoggle Bridge looks like an oxymoron ? Could it be that wide spread protests by City residents and businesses are reaching the Governor’s team ? Could it be that Mayor Rilling simply isn’t listening to City residents and businesses ? Could it be Gov. Lamont really is promising “better government” to CT citizens ? Lets all hope so.

Mayor Rilling could still redeem himself by announcing he’s reconsidering his vigorous support and opposition of City residents and will support whatever decision the Governor makes. That would be a nice way out of the Mayor’s self inflicted imbroglio.

james gallacher April 5, 2019 at 12:29 pm

Jo Bennett seems to have nailed the stats on this.

The walk bridge website doesn’t do a good job including the word ‘span’ in the correct spot when describing the bridge. They refer to it as a ‘240’ vertical bridge lift span bridge’ in its own marketing collateral. In other places it says ‘240’ span vertical lift bridge’.

Lisa and Jason, as well as countless others, would rightly assume the people advocating for that particular design can state the dimensions correctly (but they didn’t). it is 240 from tower to tower and 150 ft above the tracks (which are not at sea level mushak).

150 ft + the height of the tracks would basically dwarf everything in the area. there are composite pictures that prove this.

side note:
The level of discourse from a few people who take part in our city decision making process raises the question: how can the citizens of norwalk expect anything to get done when you can’t even be cordial to people you need to work with? I would suggest sticking to the facts and knocking the tone and snark out of your comments so we can have real discourse. More people might chime in with good ideas if they view this as a friendly place.

Chris Redfield April 7, 2019 at 8:29 am

you guys sure don’t like investing into our infrastructure. no wonder america is behind. too many nimbys, because they dont want to temporarily experience a lower quality of life for the greater good. what a joke.

Jason Milligan April 7, 2019 at 8:31 pm

We just don’t like wasting millions and billions on stupid projects.

Let’s here you actually justify Harry’s walk bridge project.

Spending money we don’t have on projects we don’t need is the problem.

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