Announces Funding for Replacement of Walk Bridge and Upgrades to the Waterbury Line Approved By State Bond Commission
Governor Dannel P. Malloy has announced that the State Bond Commission has approved more than $53 million for the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) to begin work to replace the New Haven Line’s 118-year-old Walk Bridge in Norwalk, a project that will create or retain approximately 4,500 construction-related jobs. The Walk Bridge, which carries over 140 trains a day and is maintained by Metro-North under contract to the State of Connecticut, malfunctioned in two separate incidents within a two week period this past summer and caused serious delays for New Haven Line commuters.
“Over the last four years, my administration has made significant strides towards bringing our transportation infrastructure into the 21st Century,” said Governor Malloy. “The failure of the Walk Bridge to open this summer, which resulted in massive delays and hassle for Connecticut riders, just underscored the need for us to continue our efforts to aggressively pursue funding for these kinds of projects and ensure a safe, reliable and convenient commute for residents.”
The $53 million in state funds will be used to match a $161 million federal grant awarded to ConnDOT in September under the Sandy Resiliency Project Program for states most affected by Storm Sandy. Governor Malloy said that Connecticut applied for the federal funding to cover the capital costs of several resiliency, or “infrastructure hardening”, projects central to the New Haven Line, including the design and full replacement of the Walk Bridge. Built in 1896, the Walk Bridge is the oldest movable bridge along the Northeast Corridor in Connecticut. The bridge will be replaced with a more resilient “bascule” or 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 on the New Haven Line.
“Commuters on Metro North deserve trains that run on time, every time,” said State Senator Bob Duff (D-25). “For too long the Walk Bridge has been the weakest link along the New Haven Line—the busiest commuter railway in the nation. With this grant and the help of the federal government, we will soon have a new, reliable bridge in place that commuters will never have to think about.”
“I want to thank the State Bond Commission for approving this grant to help renovate the Walk Bridge,” said State Rep. Chris Perone (D-137). “Norwalk’s Walk Bridge has been a liability over the years as it has deteriorated and caused delays for commuters. It is critical to our state’s economic survival that we upgrade our transportation infrastructure and ensure that our transportation system is safe, reliable, and affordable.”
“The Walk Bridge impacts many commuters and businesses throughout New England,” said State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140). “This bond allocation is critical. I appreciate the expedited commitment to make repairs to this aging asset and I look forward to full funding of the project in the future.”
“The funding allocation by Governor Malloy to improve the Walk Bridge in Norwalk is welcome news,” said State Rep. Terrie Wood (R-141). “Our constituents and economy depend on reliable and safe train service. This will certainly help move that needle.”
“This bond authorization is good news, not only for Norwalk, but also for all of Connecticut,” said State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143). “The New Haven Line is essential to the economic viability of both Fairfield County and the entire state. In its current condition, the railroad is unreliable and inefficient. The state's bonding priorities must reflect the urgent need to upgrade and repair it, and this $53 million authorization is an important first step. I'm pleased to see it move forward, and I applaud the Bond Commission on this decision.”
Governor Malloy also announced that the State Bond Commission has approved $7 million to implement the design phase of the installation of a Cab Signal System with Automatic Train Control on the 27 mile Waterbury Line Branch. In the last four years, the state has invested almost $11 million in Waterbury Branch-specific projects to restore the line to a state-of-good repair.
“This investment is one of many we have made in the Waterbury Branch Line to ensure a better level of customer satisfaction that riders deserve,” said Governor Malloy. “The new design of the cab signal will enhance service on this rail line and provide a more reliable transportation alternative for residents of the Greater Waterbury area.”
“Our first priority in government should be taking care of what we have and the Waterbury line - an increasingly important transportation artery for Valley commuters - has been in desperate need of upgrades for years,” said State Sen. Joe Markley (R-16). “I'm delighted that the needed funding is on its way. The investment will pay off many times over for the city of Waterbury and the surrounding towns.”
“The Waterbury line is important to both daily commuters and occasional riders and I’m happy the delegation was able to secure these funds to improve the line for everyone,” said State Rep. Anthony D’Amelio (R-71). “Providing the best service possible, with minimal delays, is a benefit to the entire area.”
“I thank Governor Malloy for supporting this investment in our transportation system that will help get vehicles off our congested roads and give the local economy a boost,” said State Rep. Larry Butler (D-72). “These funds will allow for more efficient movement of train cars and better delivery of transportation services.”
“The continued maintenance of the Waterbury rail line, along with this upgrade, is critical to the improvement and future economic development of our city,” said State Rep. Jeff Berger (D-73). “Studies have consistently shown that ridership will expand and grow with increased and improved service and this $7 million upgrade with go a long way toward achieving these goals.”
“For many years the Waterbury delegation has been working tirelessly to improve the train service to our city,” said State Rep. Selim Noujaim (R-74). “Now we see the light at the end of the tunnel and will continue to pursue speedy improvements so riders can receive their due respect and desired standards of service.”
“With its strategic location, Waterbury has the potential to serve as a transportation hub for this area of Connecticut,” said State Rep. Victor Cuevas (D-75). “Governor Malloy has once again proven he is committed to providing transportation choices and helping strengthen the city’s economic footing.”
When the new Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti began last February, Governor Malloy and ConnDOT Commissioner Redeker outlined their expectations and priorities for improved service and performance for Connecticut’s commuter lines, and have since been in active discussions with Mr. Giulietti, as Metro-North works to implement improvements that include the appointment of Mike Donnarumma as District Superintendent on the New Haven Line and consumer advocate for the Waterbury Branch.
“Improvements on the Waterbury Branch will help us improve on-time performance and reliability on the entire New Haven Line,” said ConnDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “This is basic to our core mission of customer satisfaction.”
Metro-North operates the New Haven Line and its three branches – to New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury – under contract to the ConnDOT. The New Haven Line is the busiest single commuter rail line in the United States and provided a record-breaking 39 million customer trips in 2013.