FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- State Rep. Kim Fawcett (D-Fairfield) has joined other legislative leaders in an effort to expedite the process for approving urgently needed federal funds to replace the 106-year-old Walk bridge in Norwalk, which caused two recent Metro-North Railroad shutdowns.
"Both recent failures occurred when scheduled off-peak maintenance and replacement of timbers, rails and rollers within the bridge's infrastructure caused the bridge to get stuck in the open position. It could not be lowered in time for rush-hour commuters," Fawcett said in a statement. "Full replacement of the bridge will happen; the question before us is timing and funding sources.”
The state Department of Transportation already has a funding plan in place that would allow replacement of the bridge to begin in 2017, but it would would take about five years to complete and fund with state bonds.
A more recent application has been filed for an emergency grant from the USDOT Hurricane Sandy Infrastructure Fund. If the state receives the funding, design work would begin immediately and allow for the entire project to be constructed in about three years.
The Norwalk walk bridge was originally constructed in 1898 and has past its useful lifespan. The bridge now opens about one time daily, only during off-peak hours, to allow for commercial maritime traffic to travel the riverway. A crew of nearly 30 is needed for the labor-intensive process.