(NY Post) Sen. Boucher: 175 Metro-North Bridge Malfunctions in Past Year Affect NY and CT [Ny Post]

June 16, 2014

Article as it appeared in the New York Post

Malfunctions on five of Connecticut’s decrepit swing bridges snarled Metro-North service 175 times last year, data obtained by The Post show — and now the state’s governor wants to raid Hurricane Sandy recovery funds to replace them.

The bridges, with tracks shared by Metro-North and Amtrak, often fail and can’t close after opening to let boats pass.

The Norwalk River Railroad Bridge, built in 1896, most recently got stuck on June 6, leaving thousands of riders stranded.

It saw 16 failures last year.

“Every time this 118-year-old bridge fails to close properly, our customers suffer the consequences of decades of delay and neglect,” MTA Chair Thomas Prendergast said last week.

After the latest failure, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said he was “outraged” and demanded a summit at MTA headquarters. He said he would demand Sandy-relief dollars to replace the Norwalk bridge.

But riders advocates criticized Malloy, noting he regularly raids his state’s transportation funds to close budget holes.

“It is so disingenuous for him to be outraged at a problem he made worse,” said Jim Cameron, of the Commuter Action Group, who has called for the bridges to be sold to Amtrak. “He was dealing with thousands of commuters who couldn’t get home.”

The worst of the bridges is the 110-year-old Mianus River Railroad Bridge in Greenwich, which caused 89 delays last year.

Following that is the Washington Bridge in Milford (built 1896), which disrupted Metro-North 49 times, and the Saga Movable Bridge in Westport (built 1921), which did so 20 times.

The Pequonnock River Bridge in Bridgeport, opened in 1998, failed just once but was opened only 11 times last year.

The Regional Planning Association said in a January report that it will cost Connecticut $2.8 billion to rehab and replace the four worst of its swing bridges.

“It affects New York as much as Connecticut,” said Connecticut state Sen. Toni Boucher, who has supported an amendment to make it illegal to use transportation money for other projects.

“Connecticut [residents] work in New York; New Yorkers work in Connecticut. The situation is so dire.”