Amtrak Completes Design for Connecticut River Bridge Replacement Project

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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Amtrak receives $200 million in CRISI grants.
David C. Lester

Amtrak shared updates on its Connecticut River Bridge Replacement Project on Feb. 10 as part of a broader effort to reduce the agency’s backlog of State-of-Good-Repair work and expand rail service across the network.

The existing two-track Connecticut River Bridge, which is 115 years old and owned by Amtrak, spans the Connecticut River in southern Connecticut between the towns of Old Saybrook and Old Lyme, about halfway between New York and Providence.

Amtrak, the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Shore Line East, and Providence and Worcester Railroad trains all use the bridge to transport people and goods along the bustling Northeast Corridor. 

Constructed in 1907, Amtrak said the bridge needs to be replaced with a new structure to sustain rail service across the Connecticut River as the bridge nears the end of its useful life.  

The operational system’s condition and the bridge’s age have called for constant repairs, and the bridge replacement will also provide maritime users with a better navigation channel, Amtrak said. 

The new bridge has been designed to be more reliable, using modern components for the mechanical and electrical systems of the movable bridge. Amtrak said the design process has also entailed making long-term maintenance simpler in order to enhance the bridge’s overall dependability. 

The new bridge will also have an additional six feet of clearance with the movable span in the closed position to support better maritime uses along the river, reducing restrictions while the bridge is lowered to allow for trains to pass. 

As mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration have worked together on an environmental assessment for the replacement bridge, a release said. A Finding of No Significant Impact for the selected replacement project was completed in January of 2017 following the study and screening of numerous alternatives.

Preliminary engineering and 30% of the design were included in the study, and Amtrak said the plans were advanced in collaboration with neighboring communities to ensure aesthetic cohesion and respect for the area’s historic aspects. 

The design for the replacement bridge is complete, Amtrak said, and the finalized plans call for construction to begin in early 2024. Amtrak is coordinating with numerous state and federal agencies to obtain the required environmental approvals for the project, the agency said.

The project must now obtain permits in order to move on to the construction phase. Amtrak said the agency plans to submit permit applications to the relevant regulatory bodies.