CT awarded $144 million in federal funds for rail-bridge replacements
Connecticut has been awarded more than $144 million in federal funding to support the replacement of the Walk Bridge in Norwalk and Connecticut River Bridge connecting Old Lyme and Old Saybrook, Gov. Ned Lamont and members of the state’s Congressional delegation announced Friday.
Those officials described the funds as crucial to upgrading two aging rail bridges that are among the most-used in the region and said those projects would also support economic growth.
“This $145 million grant will provide Connecticut with the urgently needed funding to replace both the Walk Bridge and Connecticut River Bridge — vital structures that have long outlived their intended lifespans,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. “Rail passengers along the Northeast Corridor deserve speedy and reliable service on Amtrak, New Haven Line and Shoreline East.”
The state Department of Transportation, in partnership with Amtrak, was awarded nearly $80 million for the replacement of the Walk Bridge, which was built in 1896. The project involves the construction of two two-track vertical-lift rail bridges, supporting rehabilitation work on the bridge-approach embankments and retaining walls, installation of new catenary structures and signal-system upgrades.
“The Walk Bridge is a critical juncture for commerce traveling along the East Coast,” said Rep. Jim Himes, whose district covers most of Fairfield County. “But, for too long, we’ve been trying to accommodate a 21st-century economy with 19th-century technology. Securing these funds has been a top priority of ours because we need critical infrastructure investment to keep Connecticut thriving and competitive for years to come.”
Amtrak, in partnership with the state DOT, was awarded about $65 million for the replacement of the 113-year-old Connecticut River Bridge with a bridge immediately to the south of the existing structure. The new bridge will maintain the two-track configuration and existing channel location and include a moveable span, with additional vertical clearance for maritime traffic.
“The Walk Bridge and the Connecticut River Bridge are both over a century old, and they are major chokepoints on the northeast corridor — affecting travel within our state and well beyond our borders,” said Sen. Chris Murphy. “Connecticut’s economic competitiveness depends in large part on its connection to Boston and New York. This funding represents a big step toward modernizing the Northeast Corridor.”
Rep. Joe Courtney, whose district includes Old Lyme and Old Saybrook, said the project “will also provide a shot in the arm to the building trades, and I look forward to working with federal rail to target local contractors and skilled workers when the time comes to award this sizable contract.”
Lamont praised the legislators for helping to secure the funding and shared their enthusiasm about the projects.
“One of Connecticut’s many strengths is the state’s access to rail and the major cities to our east and south,” Lamont said. “Fixing our aging bridges is about public safety and speeding up our transportation system. Our Department of Transportation will do a great job in making these improvements for our rail passengers.”