ConnDOT prefers long span vertical lift bridge for Walk Bridge replacement

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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A rendering of the long span vertical lift bridge preferred alternative for the Walk Bridge replacement.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation's (ConnDOT) preferred alternative to replace the Walk Bridge in Norwalk, Conn., is a Long Span Vertical Lift bridge.

The preferred alternative was released along with the publication of the Environmental Assessment/Section 4(f) Evaluation/Environmental Impact Evaluation (EA/EIE) for the Walk Railroad Bridge replacement project on Sept. 6.

The current Walk Bridge over the Norwalk River is one of the oldest moveable bridges in the country, as well as a critical transportation link on the Northeast Corridor carrying four tracks for Metro-North, Amtrak and freight service.

ConnDOT said the selection of the Long Span Vertical Lift Bridge followed evaluation of more than 70 design concepts. The preferred alternative choice was made based on a variety of factors including construction duration, risk, navigation and local road impacts, environmental footprint, long-term performance, aesthetic flexibility and cost as they relate to the project’s Purpose and Need Statement. ConnDOT noted that the Long Span Vertical Lift Bridge is the only alternative with both foundations proposed outside of the existing swing span limits, allowing the existing bridge to remain operational longer during construction and requiring a shorter rail track outage.

“The new bridge will provide safe and reliable rail service and efficiencies of rail transportation while improving navigational capacity and dependability for marine traffic. It will be a redundant structure with two independent movable spans – each carrying two tracks – and will be designed and constructed to be resilient and sustainable for extreme weather events including storm surges and high winds,” ConnDOT said in a statement.

The Walk Bridge Replacement Project includes railroad approaches from the east and west, totaling approximately one-half-track mile. The project also includes track, catenary and signal work within the existing state right-of-way, extending from approximately the Washington Street Bridge in South Norwalk to approximately 300 feet east of the Fort Point Street Bridge in East Norwalk. The Fort Point Street Bridge will be replaced as part of the project.

Construction of the new Walk Bridge is anticipated to begin in mid-2018, based on the availability of funding, which is expected to come from a mix of federal and state funds. In September 2014, the Federal Transit Authority awarded ConnDOT $161 million in disaster relief funds to be applied toward the estimated $465-million Walk Bridge Replacement project.

The 45-day public comment period for the EA/EIE is open through Oct. 21 and ConnDOT will hold a Public Hearing on Oct. 6 to discuss the project.