Governor Dannel Malloy, Senator Richard Blumenthal and other leaders met in New York City on Monday to discuss the latest problem for Connecticut rail travel. The 118-year-old Walk Bridge in Norwalk has gotten stuck in the open position twice in recent days, leading to major Metro-North and Amtrak delays.
Malloy met with executives from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metro-North to discuss the incidents. He said the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the MTA will conduct an operational review of procedures at the bridge, and will aim to deliver the findings by mid-July.
"There is no doubt," Malloy said in a statement, "that we are now seeing the effects of decades of neglect when it comes to investing in our infrastructure. Over the last three and a half years, we have changed course. ...The Walk Bridge is a great example of past priorities. In 2008, plans for a new bridge were dropped and no additional investment was made. Today, we are not only providing the funding to maintain it, we're also developing a plan to replace it. While we clearly have much more work to do, I hope that residents know my administration is committed to making investments that were put off for far too long."
In April, Malloy said Connecticut applied for $600 million in federal transportation aid to cover three projects' capital costs, including $349 million for 75 percent of what it will cost to replace the Walk Bridge.
Blumenthal is calling on the Coast Guard to limit how often it opens the span for boat traffic. In a letter Monday to the Coast Guard, he called the bridge problems "chronic," and noted that the bridge failed 16 times in 271 openings during 2013. "The probability of the bridge's failing to close is so high -- and the consequences so enormous and unacceptable -- that urgent action is unavoidably essential," he wrote. "While exact hours may be set by the United State Coast Guard after consulting with all stakeholders and interested parties, recent experience indicates that drastic restrictions should be imposed."
Blumenthal is also calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to expedite the state's request for funding to replace the bridge.
This report includes information from The Associated Press.