Walk Bridge Funding Statement Ranking Members of Transportation Committee

September 18, 2014

Hartford, CT – Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) and Representative David Scribner (R-Brookfield) Ranking Members of the Transportation Committee released the following statement today re: announcement of federal funding to help replace the walk bridge and improve reliability along the New Haven rail line.

“News that the state will receive $161 million in federal grant money to help design and replace the 118-year-old Norwalk Walk Bridge is welcome news for commuters. Sadly, this project is years from actually being completed. The bridge is the first in a series of more than 100-year-old bridges along the Metro North Line that have been neglected over the years.

“Every day commuters worry about getting to work safely and on time. This is a direct result of the state and the rail operator failing to do their job. We need more support from this administration and quite frankly the Connecticut Congressional delegation. Though the $161 million grant will help with aspects of the project, it pales in comparison to the $600 million the state applied for in April. The Governor’s office admittedly says the state requested the larger amount because the cost of replacing the Walk Bridge is well over $350 million.

“When the closure of one rail-bridge knocks the entire New England corridor offline, we have a major economic and safety issue. This railroad line deserves a regional team focus: a group that will fight for its upkeep, its safety and its future. The commuters and taxpayers deserve as much.”

Background: After the Walk Bridge failed to work properly the administration was forced to get engineers on the case. The recommendations made from this team of experts are now being implemented including new mechanisms that will automate the opening and closing of the bridge – thus reducing the need for workers to physically open and close the bridge.

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 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.