Malloy looking to replace Norwalk railroad bridge

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.


5 responses to “Malloy looking to replace Norwalk railroad bridge”

  1. piberman

    Isn’t it amazing that come election year our Governor Malloy can actually look around the state and find things that needed fixing decades ago. Maybe this most perspicacious of Governors can actually raise the bridge and its approaches so SoNo has a better chance of becoming a prosperous community. Dream on. Dream on. All we need now are our legislative politicos to attend the photo-ops to make the Governor’s dream come true. Let’s all vote to re-elect the Governor. He’s offered a new bridge and that’s the best deal we’ve seen coming in a real long time.

  2. EveT

    @piberman, it may be worth considering that the Hurricane Sandy federal funds were not available decades ago. An awful lot of people will breathe a sigh of relief the day this bridge is replaced with safer, more reliable one.

  3. LWitherspoon

    So Norwalk gets next to nothing in terms of increased state aid for our schools. Our consolation prize is that the Governor will beg Uncle Sam to return some of our tax dollars to us for replacing a railroad bridge. How will that railroad bridge improve education in Norwalk?

  4. Debora

    The project to upgrade the railroad bridge at East Ave, which also is supposed to be funded with state and federal money may end up being done at the same time.
    or else, we are going to have significant disruption to our rail travel here in Norwalk for a very long time as two separate bridge projects are being done.
    Can they at least be coordinated to minimize the disruption.?

  5. Dave

    Two points:

    1) The State should not be surprised or caught off guard that a 120-year-old movable iron structure is failing. Hurricane Sandy didn’t cause the mechanical problems and Hurricane Sandy funds should not be used to replace this bridge. I need new tires and brakes on my car; does that make me eligible for Sandy funds?

    2) Quick point about an earlier comment suggesting raising the bridge. Trains generally can only handle inclines of two degrees. That’s roughly a 1:50 ratio. To raise the bridge ten feet taller, the approach on each side of the bridge, assuming similar elevations on each side, would require extending the approaches on each side roughly 500 feet (1,000 feet total, or 1/5 of a mile). Essentially, a taller wall to raise the bridge. 🙁

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