It is now acknowledged that low profile tug boats could deliver barges to Devine Brothers even if the Walk Bridge no longer opened. And that the 15 sailboats upriver could easily be accommodated in Norwalk Harbor. So what arguments remain for a very expensive, malfunction prone movable bridge which will disrupt the Maritime Aquarium and SoNo businesses, cover oyster beds with toxic sediment, and massively release carbon in order to produce and assemble the steel and concrete?
Some town officials are now circulating the notion that a fixed bridge would prevent dredging cranes from accessing the river upstream of the bridge. This seemed odd to me, since construction cranes travel beneath highway overpasses before being tipped up at work sites. But, I decided to inquire.
A search for “US dredging” led me to US Aqua Services in Louisiana which dredges throughout the US. The company president Ken Myers told me that dredge cranes are usually transported flat on barges and tipped up at their destination. He doubted that fixed bridge clearance could be an issue. Moreover, he said dredging is now more commonly done by hydraulic suction rather than mechanical digging from a crane. The hydraulic equipment is low profile with no clearance issues.
Town officials have also suggested that a fixed bridge might preclude federal funding for dredging. However, those funds are allocated on the basis of the commercial value of traffic on a waterway, not its vertical clearance. When Norwalk last applied for dredging funds in the ’90s, special efforts were made to have oil delivered by barge rather than truck, so that the application could show higher value cargoes. In recent decades, oil barges have become a rare sight on the Norwalk River.
Until the construction contracts are signed, it’s not too late to stop this financial and environmental fiasco which is a manifestation of governmental incompetence. Gov. Lamont himself stated April 2 at the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce: “This is crazy, this is the type of boondoggle that makes people really cynical about government.” If Mayor Rilling and Senator Duff walk back their positions on this, I bet the governor would let sanity prevail.