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Connecticut's Largest IMAX Theater to Be Demoed for New Railroad Bridge

Mon December 21, 2020 - Northeast Edition
The Hartford Courant


Another cinema, with a two-story 4D screen and 169 seats, is being built on the other side of the aquarium and will open soon after the IMAX theater closes, aquarium spokesperson Dave Sigworth said.
Another cinema, with a two-story 4D screen and 169 seats, is being built on the other side of the aquarium and will open soon after the IMAX theater closes, aquarium spokesperson Dave Sigworth said.
Another cinema, with a two-story 4D screen and 169 seats, is being built on the other side of the aquarium and will open soon after the IMAX theater closes, aquarium spokesperson Dave Sigworth said. The current swivel bridge has gotten stuck open a few times in the last three or four years. When that happens, it shuts down Metro North’s New Haven line and Amtrak’s northeast corridor to Boston.

The cinema at Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Conn., which features a six-story IMAX screen -- the largest in the state -- will close on Jan. 18 and be demolished to make way for a project to replace a 124-year-old railroad bridge, the aquarium has announced.

Another cinema, with a two-story 4D screen and 169 seats, is being built on the other side of the aquarium and will open soon after the IMAX theater closes, aquarium spokesperson Dave Sigworth said.

The aquarium and theater buildings are owned by the city of Norwalk. Sigworth said the IMAX theater hugs the bridge so closely that it would be impossible to build a new bridge with the theater still there. The 564-ft. Walk Bridge, which spans the Norwalk River, was constructed in 1896.

"It's a swivel bridge," he explained. "When a barge or sailboat goes through it, rather than going up, it turns on its axis in the middle of the river to allow boat traffic to go through. It's gotten stuck open a few times in the last three or four years. When that happens, it shuts down Metro North's New Haven line and Amtrak's northeast corridor to Boston. It's time for the bridge to be rebuilt."

The bridge construction project will take more than five years, he said. It is designed by the architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle; and the owner's representative is CSG Construction Solutions Group, with construction managed in a joint venture of AP Construction and O&G Industries.

A fully enclosed seal habitat also will be built as part of the $40 million aquarium project, paid for with state and federal funds, according to Sigworth. The current seal habitat is half indoors, half outdoors, and near the bridge. Enclosing the habitat will protect seals and people from the bridge construction project.

"[With] vibrations and noise from pile drivers, and any sort of industrial things happening like things dropping off cranes, we couldn't have guests out in that atmosphere," he added.

The seal habitat – which will be 150,000 gallons, seven times bigger than the original habitat – is expected to open in April. The bridge project will start after that.

Sigworth said the aquarium was told in October 2016 that the theater would get in the way of a bridge project.

"A long period of negotiations followed to keep us whole," he said.

Groundbreaking was in November 2019.

The aquarium was built in 1988, inside a former 1860s iron works, as part of a SoNo revitalization project. The theater, which was new construction, was connected to the aquarium by an interior walkway under the bridge. The aquarium, a nonprofit, pays a nominal rent every year for the use of both buildings.

The current swivel bridge has gotten stuck open a few times in the last three or four years. When that happens, it shuts down Metro North's New Haven line and Amtrak's northeast corridor to Boston.




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