The 118-year-old bridge recently malfunctioned in two separate incidents within a two- week period, causing train delays on Metro-North's commuter line. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy also announced that the State Bond Commission is expected to approve $3 million at its meeting this Friday to fund the improvements recommended in the report.
ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker said that the fixes will include establishing a separate drive system to open and close the movable pieces of rail that lock the bridge into place, installing electronic switches and implementing repairs to rollers and rods in the center pier on which the bridge pivots. A gear and shaft system will also be readjusted to properly align wedges at either end of the movable span that lock it into place. The new mechanisms will be programmed into the automation of the bridge to reduce the manpower currently needed to open the bridge.
After holding a Walk Bridge "crisis summit" on June 9 with Metro-North, Gov. Malloy announced the establishment of a Short Term Action Team (STAT) charged with reviewing, investigating and determining the best approach to improve the mechanical reliability of the Walk Bridge. The team consisted of ConnDOT engineers and bridge inspectors, Metro-North engineers and consultant bridge inspectors and engineers. The report that resulted from STAT's work outlines a series of modifications that can be made over the next nine months that will improve the operating systems and reliability of the bridge until the bridge can ultimately be replaced. The state funding will pay for work on the devices that lift the rails and re-seat them and other improvements that will restore the automated operation to the bridge.
"The New Haven Line is the busiest commuter rail line in America and one malfunctioning bridge can disrupt the entire Northeast Corridor. Because our customers – and our economy – rely on this system every day, we are implementing these fixes to increase reliability in the near term until the full replacement of the Walk Bridge can begin," Gov. Malloy said. "I commend the team of professionals who completed the thorough engineering evaluation of the bridge and developed these recommendations in record time, as well as the Metro-North personnel who have been manually operating the bridge without failure since we met in June to discuss the fate of the Walk Bridge."