View of the Walk Bridge and fender system.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) announced the launch of a new website for the Walk Bridge Program as part of its ongoing effort to keep the public informed as this railroad bridge project in Norwalk advances.
The new website,www.walkbridgect.com, will provide the public with access to current project information, including meeting notices and construction updates. While construction of the Walk Bridge is not scheduled to begin until mid-2018, CTDOT is planning to complete three advance construction projects that are necessary before the bridge replacement project begins.
The 120-year-old bridge carries four tracks of the New Haven commuter rail line over the Norwalk River. It swings open and closed to accommodate commercial and recreational marine traffic on the river below. When it fails to close properly — as has happened in recent years — it can cause major disruptions to rail service in the Northeast Corridor.
CTDOT is undertaking the replacement of the Walk Bridge to provide safe, reliable rail service, and enhance Connecticut's transportation system, now and for the future. As one of the oldest movable bridges on the New Haven Line, replacement of the Walk Bridge has long been recognized as a priority to maintain critical rail service on the nation's busiest commuter rail line.
Constructing the new Walk Bridge in the highly developed commercial and residential area of historic South Norwalk presents unique challenges, which CTDOT is now working to address in advance of construction. Construction will be completed in phases to maintain rail service and minimize impacts to stakeholders. Coordination with rail and maritime users, neighbors and other stakeholders will be a priority to minimize traffic and business disruptions.
CTDOT has been meeting with local officials and key stakeholders throughout the past year to gain their input and will continue this coordination as the project advances. CTDOT also is coordinating this project with other projects in the area scheduled for construction in a similar timeframe. In addition, a local office will be opened in conjunction with the Walk Bridge project to provide opportunities for interaction with the public.
Construction on the main Walk Bridge project will start in mid-2018. In late spring 2016, construction began on the first in a series of related projects that need to be completed in advance of the bridge replacement. The advance projects include:
• The Fender Repair Project will repair the fenders around the piers that protect both the Walk Bridge and boats from damage in the event of a collision. This work will be done in the water, primarily in the east channel. It will not impede boat passage for a majority of the time but will occasionally limit marine traffic. This work is scheduled to begin in late spring.
• The Danbury Branch Dockyard Project required to facilitate rail operations during construction of the Walk Bridge, is scheduled to start construction in early 2017. This work will consist of adding track sidings, signal work and electrification to the southern end of the Danbury Branch of the New Haven line. These improvements will be made from where the Danbury Line splits off the main line to one mile north, in the area formerly known as the Dock Yard. There will be minimal impact to local roads as a result of this project
• The CP243 Interlocking Project, also scheduled to begin in 2017, will construct a new four-track interlocking to allow for two-track Metro-North Railroad operations during reconstruction of the Walk Bridge. The project location is on the New Haven line approximately 1.5 mi. (2.4 km) east of the Walk Bridge, vicinity of Norden Place. There will be minimal impact to the roadway network as a result of this project. (CP243 refers to the numbered overhead power line Catenary Post at that location. An “interlocking” allows a train to change tracks.)
Design of the new Walk Bridge is still at the preliminary stage and the project team is evaluating construction impacts. The overall goal is to minimize disruption in the area and to reduce the duration of construction.
The Walk Bridge carries four tracks of the New Haven Line and is critical to intercity and high-speed passenger rail service by Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak as well as freight rail service by CSX and Providence and Worcester Railroad. Approximately 200 trains and 125,000 passengers travel across the Walk Bridge every day and ridership is projected to double by 2065. Constructed in 1896, the aging bridge has outlived its useful lifespan and has experienced recent failures, causing safety concerns and travel delays.
CTDOT owns the New Haven Line, which is operated by Metro-North Railroad under contract to CTDOT.
For more information, visit http://www.walkbridgect.com/.