Connecticut and New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority will jointly pursue $349 million in federal resiliency funding to replace the Walk Bridge in Norwalk, Conn., Gov. Dannel Malloy said.
The 118-year-old bridge swings open to let marine traffic through. On June 6, it failed to swing shut, blocking trains in both directions and delaying the evening commute home. The bridge serves Metro-North Railroad, an MTA unit, and Amtrak. Coastal Norwalk sits about 50 miles northeast of New York City.
"There is no doubt that we are now seeing the effects of decades of neglect when it comes to investing in our infrastructure," Malloy said at a June 9 news conference at MTA headquarters in midtown Manhattan. Chairman Thomas Prendergast said the MTA would support the state's grant application, which seeks funds for three commuter rail infrastructure projects on the New Haven line, including $349 million in federal funding to replace the Walk Bridge.
In addition, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the MTA will conduct an operational review of procedures at the bridge. They hope to release findings by mid-July.
According to Malloy, plans for a new bridge were dropped in 2008 and no additional investment was made. State officials plan to fast-track the process and hope to receive approval by September, according to the governor. "Best case, this is a three-year project," he said.
In April, Malloy announced that the state applied for $600 million in federal transportation said. That request included the $349 million to cover 75% of the Walk Bridge replacement cost. "We have to find another $100 million," he said.
State transportation officials say the Walk Bridge, built in 1896, will be replaced with a more resilient "bascule" or vertical lift bridge that opens for marine traffic from one side with a counterweight system.
The state owns the Walk Bridge. Under contract to Connecticut, Metro-North staff maintain the bridge and open and close it based on marine traffic needs.