Amtrak is looking to replace a rail bridge across the Connecticut River between the towns of Old Lyme, Conn., and Old Saybrook, Conn. The existing bridge has been there since 1907 and is in need of replacement, but is part of the essential Northeast Rail Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. After getting approval by Old Saybrook back on April 20, the new bridge proposal hit a snag with Old Lyme on May 12. Officials there want to see more details of the plan until giving it the thumbs up.
The project will cost $400 million and calls for the construction of a 1,600-ft-long bascule bridge 53 ft south of the existing span, which will remain operational until the new bridge is completed. The plan is to increase the width of the channel from 148 ft to 150 ft and to shift the channel 14.5 ft west toward the center of the Connecticut River. The move should help prevent vessel collisions with the new bridge, which also will be 24 ft high in the closed position. The vertical clearance of the existing bridge is 18 ft in the closed position. When the new bridge is open the vertical clearance will be unlimited in a 90-ft-wide section of the river and at least 74 ft for the full width of the river.
Access to the work site on both sides of the river will be challenging, as there are no direct connections by road. Several options are being offered, and there may be a need to construct at least one temporary trestle bridge depending on what option is chosen.
Final designs of the new bridge are expected to be complete in 2022, with construction beginning in 2024.
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