CT: Bridge Problems Cause Metro-North Delays

May 29--SOUTH NORWALK -- Metro-North service on the New Haven line was snarled Thursday morning due to a mechanical problem with the Walk Bridge.

The four-track swing bridge over the Norwalk River, which mechanics had not been able to close since early Thursday morning, was repaired about 9 a.m., but delays lingered for commuters riding Metro-North and Amtrak.

Service between East Norwalk and South Norwalk was suspended while the bridge was being repaired. Amtrak service was also suspended.

Angry customers took to social media Thursday morning, complaining about yet another problem on the railroad which has recently been plagued by derailments, operations blunders and service failures.

Amtrak's Twitter feed was full of apologies to customers who were stuck on trains for hours.

"Customers should anticipate delays and crowded conditions due to significant congestion in the vicinity of South Norwalk," a railroad alert said. "We regret any inconvenience you may have experienced."

The 564-foot swing bridge carries 140 Metro-North and Amtrak trains each day. It was built in 1896 and is scheduled to be replaced beginning in 2018, state Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said. Design work for a replacement span is under way and schedule to be completed by 2017. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018 and is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

DOT has applied for a $349 million federal grant to cover 75 percent of the projected replacement cost of $465 million, he said.

"It's over 100 years old," Nursick said. "It's at the end of its useful life." The bridge is still safe, but continues to have mechanical issues, he said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Thursday he'll work to support the state's application for federal money and urge the Federal Rail Administration to expedite its decision.

Copyright 2014 - The Hartford Courant

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