HARTFORD, Conn. – The state of Connecticut is applying for federal funds to replace Norwalk’s railroad bridge, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced Monday. That would pay for 75 percent of the cost of the project; Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) would match the federal funding and the work would be done without tax dollars collected by Norwalk.
This would come from $3 billion made available by Congress and the Obama administration to 11 states that were affected by Superstorm Sandy, a press release from the governor’s office said. Connecticut is applying for $603 million in federal transportation funding to help cover the capital costs of three resiliency, or “hardening,” projects on key components of the New Haven Line, which is owned by CDOT and operated by Metro-North, the release said. The federal funds will be matched with $200 million in state funds for various upgrade and replacement projects along the New Haven Line.
CDOT Commissioner James Redeker said that the Federal Transit Administration will announce grant awards under the Sandy Resiliency Project Program in the fall.
The shopping list:
• CDOT is requesting $349 million in federal funding to help cover the cost of the Walk Bridge Replacement Project in Norwalk, representing 75 percent of the $465 million total project cost. CDOT would match the federal funding with $116 million in state funds.
• The funding will be used for project design, engineering, environmental clearance, and construction.
• The WALK bridge was built in 1896, and replacing it with a more resilient “bascule” bridge (which would open for marine traffic from one side with a counter-weight system) will significantly enhance the safety and reliability of commuter and intercity passenger service along the Northeast corridor.
• CDOT is requesting $245 million in federal funding for the replacement of the existing communications and signaling system along the Connecticut section of the New Haven Line, representing 75 percent of the $326 million total project cost. CDOT would match the federal funding with $82 million in state funds.
• The requested federal funding will be used towards completing the design, engineering and construction of a new reliable and resilient communications and signaling system.
• The current system was installed over 35 years ago and is now well past its useful life, with its poor condition exacerbated by winds and flooding.
• CDOT is requesting $9 million in federal funding for a Power Upgrade at the New Haven Rail Yard, representing 75 percent of the $12 million total project cost. CDOT would match the federal funding with $3 million in state funds.
• The New Haven Yard Power Upgrade project will protect power transmission to the yard in the event of high winds and flooding by providing two new under-ground feeders from the power company (United Illuminating), to the yard’s power distribution system.
• Two dedicated 10 megawatt feeders will be installed underground and fed directly from UI’s Water Street substation; if one feeder fails, the other feeder can still supply the entire yard.
“We learned some tough lessons during Super Storm Sandy, but one of the most important was that several aspects of our transportation infrastructure are in dire need of hardening measures,” Malloy said in the release. “We have made billions of dollars in investments in new rail infrastructure in recent years, but it is just as crucial to maintain, protect and replace existing systems along the Northeast rail corridor. The New Haven Line is the busiest single commuter rail system in America and the backbone of our economy and its failure due to a weather-related event would have a catastrophic ripple effect throughout the region and the nation. In anticipation of adding even more service on this state owned rail corridor, we want to undergo these projects now to ensure a safe and reliable commute for riders, prevent any major system interruptions and protect against future natural disasters.”
“Super Storm Sandy made it all too clear that Southwest Connecticut is far from immune to the effects of severe weather, and that we must do everything we can now to mitigate the damage from future storms,” said U.S. Representative Jim Himes (D-Greenwich).
In February, Malloy and CDOT announced that the $10 million upgrade of the power supply for the New Haven Line was successfully completed, giving full back-up power redundancy for the east- and westbound lines.