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Malloy reveals financing, schedule for Walk Bridge replacement

The Norwalk Walk Bridge swings open on May 25, before it became a major issue for Gov. Dannel Malloy.
The Norwalk Walk Bridge swings open on May 25, before it became a major issue for Gov. Dannel Malloy.

NORWALK, Conn. – The mechanics of Norwalk’s decrepit Walk Bridge are on their last legs, but a gaggle of state and federal pols – some endangered, some not – gathered Thursday morning in Norwalk to explaining the mechanics of the funding that will, they say, make the rail bridge whole again.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s (ConnDOT) plan to close a $188 million funding gap for the design and replacement of the New Haven Line’s 118-year-old span, which malfunctioned in two separate incidents within a two week period in May and June.

It was announced in mid-September that federal government had awarded ConnDOT $161 million for infrastructure hardening purposes which, combined with existing state funds designated for the Walk Bridge replacement, gives Connecticut about $277 million to put toward the $465 million total estimated project cost. In all, this project will be funded with 34 percent state funds and 66 percent federal funds.

The additional funding sources that will provide the $188 million needed for the project are:

  • Federal Transit Administration regular program apportionment funding is programed to support the project in federal fiscal years 2016-2018 in the amount of approximately $146 million with a state matching requirement of $36.5 million over the three years for a total of $182.5 million.
  • An additional $68 million of state bond funds over the three year period are programmed as state over match to complete the WALK Finance Plan and provide a total of approximately $465 million for the project.

“This historic federal investment is a major victory for both Norwalk and our entire region,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4) is a press release distributed after the event. “This award will help replace the deteriorated Walk Bridge, which has caused repetitive delays that have been a drain on both commuters and businesses in Connecticut and the Northeast, and improve the efficiency and safety of Metro-North’s New Haven line.”

“The Walk Bridge has been stuck in the 19th century for far too long, and today’s announcement will finally bring a permanent, 21st century solution,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “For decades, the Walk Bridge was allowed to decay and deteriorate, as both the state and federal government kicked the can down the road and ignored glaring warning signs. Here, and with other major transportation investments, Governor Malloy is to be commended for recognizing that we must invest now in our rail and transportation infrastructure, or pay later with cascading failures, intolerable traffic congestion, and diminished opportunities for economic development.”

Commuter advocate Jim Cameron hailed the governor’s announcement but cautioned, “After decades of neglect it will take many years to design and build a new Walk bridge, just the first of four such century-old bridges needing replacement. I would caution commuters that we are still at some risk of service disruptions, despite the best efforts of the CDOT and Metro-North.  Only patience and perseverance will return this railroad to greatness.”

Malloy also outlined project’s schedule, which is using an “alternative delivery” process. ConnDOT will issue a request for qualifications (RFQ) this month to start contractor selection and expects the design for the replacement bridge, which began in July, to be complete by 2016.  With a contract bid package complete by late 2016, construction of the replacement bridge could begin in 2017 with a completion date in 2020.

Under contract to the State of Connecticut, Metro-North maintains the Walk Bridge and opens and closes it as required by the needs of marine traffic. Built in 1896, the Walk Bridge is the oldest movable bridge along the New Haven Line/Northeast Corridor in Connecticut. The bridge will be replaced with a more resilient “bascule” or vertical lift bridge that opens for marine traffic from one side with a counterweight system and will significantly enhance the safety and reliability of commuter and intercity passenger service along the Northeast corridor.

Comments

6 responses to “Malloy reveals financing, schedule for Walk Bridge replacement”

  1. Oldtimer

    Hard to understand, if the structure itself is in such good shape, as they say, why not just replace the mechanical system that opens and closes the bridge ? Wouldn’t that save a lot of money ? Wouldn’t they be able to design and build a new electric over hydraulic system, and install it, in a matter of months ?

  2. Bill

    Yes, Malloy recognized it needed to be repaired after 2 weeks of it going down 3 & 1/2 years into his governorship…LOL

  3. Kevin Di Mauro

    Oldtimer-

    I think this bridge is a lot like a car I used to own.

    You fix one thing, and then something else goes wrong. You fix that, and something else goes wrong. It goes on until you reach a point where you say I should have junked it and started anew.

  4. Oyster

    It may be the cost of future maintenance that is part of the calculation.

  5. Oldtimer

    The part that opens but doesn’t always close reliably, is only a small section of a much larger bridge across the river. If now is the time to replace the entire bridge, why are we only talking about replacing the one small section ? If, as DOT engineers have told us, the entire bridge structure is in good shape, why not just replace the mechanism that opens and closes this small section, and leave the rest in place ? There has to be a lot of people in business who could easily design, build, and install a new hydraulic operating system for a lot less money with a hardly noticeable interruption in service.

  6. Oldtimer

    Is it possible the entire bridge, not just the part that swings, needs to be replaced and that is part of the plan ?

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