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Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. What is the Walk Bridge Program?

    The Walk Bridge Program is a comprehensive infrastructure improvement program consisting of more than a half-dozen interrelated road, rail and utility infrastructure projects. The Program increases safety, reliability and ease of travel through Norwalk, while protecting resources important to the city’s future like the rail line, local roads and the Norwalk River. The Program promotes economic development through infrastructure investment, increasing railroad reliability and reducing road congestion and travel delays for residents, commuters, boaters and tourists and protecting current and future waterfront development.

  2. What projects make up the Walk Bridge Program?

    What projects make up the Walk Bridge Program?

  3. What is the cost of the Program?
    • The total cost of the Walk Bridge Program including design, rights of way, construction and program management is approximately $1.2 Billion. Of that total, approximately $935 Million accounts for construction costs. The current Walk Bridge Replacement Project construction estimate is $511 Million. The construction cost of the other elements of the Program, including the CP243 Interlocking and Danbury Branch Dockyard projects, is approximately $424 million.
    • The estimated funding projection for the Program is 40% federal and 60% state funds, which includes approximately $161 million of federal funds from a Superstorm Sandy Infrastructure Resiliency grant.

  4. What prompted the replacement of the Walk Bridge?
    • A pattern of bridge closure failures began in 2011, when the bridge failed to close 12 times that year.
    • In 2013, the Walk Bridge failed to close properly 16 times.
    • By 2014, the bridge failed to close during rush hour twice within a two-week period. These failures caused significant service delays and required emergency busing of rail passengers.
    • In 2018, the bridge continued to experience issues, failing to close 16 times.
  5. Why does the Walk Bridge need to be replaced?

    As a part of Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line, the bridge is a critical link in the busiest rail corridor in the nation, the Northeast Corridor, connecting Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. The Walk Bridge carries approximately 175 trains and 125,000 riders each day (more than 45 million each year) – including Metro-North, Amtrak and freight trains. The bridge has outlived its intended life span by more than two decades and needs to be replaced. The existing bridge suffers from a system-wide degradation of the bridge structure, significant wear of mechanical systems and obsolete electrical systems leading to unexpected maintenance costs, operational failures and emergency repairs.

  6. What precautions have been taken to ensure safety and minimize impacts to rail service?
    • After the operational failures of the Walk Bridge in 2014, CTDOT completed a $3 million repair program so that the bridge remains operational until the new bridge is constructed. Extra precautions are taken so that the bridge functions properly. Currently, the bridge is opened manually, meaning the machinery is activated by a qualified electrician and not by automatic controllers. Finally, the bridge is inspected regularly by engineers so that it is safe for use and receives ongoing maintenance.
    • Bridge openings are restricted between 5:45 AM - 9:45 AM and from 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM to reduce possible interference during rush hour train service.

     

  7. What is the chosen replacement for the Walk Bridge? How was this design selected?
    • The Program is replacing the existing bridge with a 240’ Span Vertical Lift Bridge. The “240’ Span” indicates the length of the bridge, not the height. For the new movable span to meet the reasonable needs of navigation (60’ clearance) when fully raised, the top of the lift span towers is placed approximately 150’ above the top of railroad tracks.

    • The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) evaluated more than 70 replacement design variations prior to selecting the 240’ Span Vertical Lift Bridge. The alternatives assessed fell within the following categories:
      • No Build (no action)
      • Rehabilitation
      • Fixed-Bridge Replacement
      • Movable-Bridge Replacement
    • Representative options in each category were evaluated against factors such as local impacts, construction duration, impacts to rail service, and cohesion with the project’s purpose & need.
    • While each alternative has varying impacts, there is no viable alternative that results in a markedly shorter construction timeframe or significantly fewer construction impacts than the 240’ Span Vertical Lift Bridge preferred alternative. Learn more about design alternatives here.
    • In addition to meeting the project’s purpose & need, this design provides the following benefits:
      • Shortest construction of the movable options.
      • Fewest environmental impacts of the evaluated options.
      • Maintaining two-track service and minimizing rail service impacts during construction.
      • Fewest disruptions to Norwalk River waterway users.
      • Designed to withstand extreme weather events.
  8. Why can't we have a fixed-bridge replacement?
    • The Norwalk River has active waterway users utilizing the river upstream. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) advised the project that a 60’ vertical clearance, matching that of the upstream Yankee Doodle Bridge (I-95), would meet the reasonable needs of navigation on the river.
    • A high-level fixed bridge meeting the prescribed navigation clearances, in which the railroad tracks would be elevated over a distance between East Norwalk Station and South Norwalk Station, would result in significantly unfavorable property and environmental impacts while nearly tripling the cost of the preferred alternative. A low-level fixed bridge, in which the rail road track is placed at the same vertical height as the existing bridge, fails to meet the reasonable needs of navigation as outlined by the USCG. Based on continued consultation with the USCG, if a low-level fixed-bridge was suitable, the USCG would have indicated as such during on-going consultations with the Program.
  9. Does a movable bridge cost more?
    • The design of the new bridge has advanced beyond 60% completion. The cost of redesigning a fixed alternative would result in negligible savings at this point in the process.
    • The movable components on the chosen design for the Walk Bridge Replacement represent 10% – 15% of the overall cost of the bridge. Factsheets on the low-level fixed bridge and movable bridge are available for comparison of benefits and impacts.
  10. Can we change the navigability designation of the river?
    • The USCG definition of a navigable waterway includes “internal waters of the US that are subject to tidal influence.” This designation cannot be changed without a change to the current federal regulation, which has never been done.
    • CASE STUDY: What about the Peck River in Bridgeport?
      • In cases where a reduction in existing navigation clearances (either horizontal or vertical) are deemed as meeting the reasonable needs of navigation, the USCG would issue a bridge permit for that structure. This change in navigation clearance does not represent a change in the waterway’s designation as a navigable waterway. 
      • In the case of the Congress Street in Bridgeport, the Water Quality Bill of 2018 included a provision to cancel The United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) federal navigation project with jurisdiction over the waterway’s channel depth. This removed the federal dredging of the waterway in this stretch of the river. This did not change the Peck River’s designation as a navigable waterway.
      • This “act of Congress” had nothing to do with determining navigation clearances, which remains the responsibility of the USCG for navigable waterways. The USCG issued a bridge permit (because Peck remained a navigable waterway) for a low level fixed-bridge because they felt this met the reasonable needs of navigation for the Peck River. 
  11. How often does the bridge open?
    • Due to operational failures in the last decade, restrictions regarding bridge openings have been enforced to reduce interference with train schedules and minimize the potential for failures. There is a restriction on bridge openings during warm weather because heat can cause the bridge to expand, leading to issues closing the bridge and realigning the tracks. Restrictions like this and others have resulted in fewer openings in recent years.
      • 2011: 138 openings (failed 12 times)
      • 2013: 271 openings (failed 16 times)
      • 2014: 130 openings (failed twice in two weeks)
      • 2015: 150 openings
      • 2016: 85 openings
      • 2017: 99 openings
      • 2018 (through Feb. 2019): 139 openings (failed 16 times)

  12. When does construction begin on the Program?
    • The Walk Bridge Program is being developed and constructed in phases to maintain rail service and reduce impacts to the public. The Walk Bridge Replacement Project is currently at 60% design. The project is anticipated to reach 90% design in the second half of 2019 and begin construction in the Summer of 2020.
    • The Fort Point Street, East Avenue and Osborne Avenue Projects begin approximately 1.5 years after construction of the Walk Bridge Replacement Project begins.
    • The Danbury Branch Dockyard Project and the CP243 Interlocking Project began construction in 2017 and are anticipated to be completed in 2020 and 2022 respectively.
  13. Why are multiple projects part of the Walk Bridge Program?
    • The CP243 Interlocking Project increases rail service flexibility by allowing trains to switch tracks more easily. Similarly, the Danbury Branch Dockyard project contributes to service flexibility by allowing trains to change direction and provides a location where trains can be stored when not in service. Construction of the Walk Bridge Replacement requires two-track service which is accommodated by improvements provided by the CP243 Interlocking and Danbury Branch Dockyard Projects.
    • The Fort Point Street, East Avenue and Osborne Avenue projects include bridges and infrastructure that are more than 100 years old and need to be replaced. These projects are completed simultaneously with the Walk Bridge Replacement to take advantage of scheduled track outages and streamline work. This approach reduces rail disruptions, lowers costs and shortens construction durations.
  14. What construction method is being applied to the Walk Bridge Replacement Project?
    • CTDOT is employing a Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) process. CM/GC is an innovative project delivery method where the contractor acts as Construction Manager during design and advises CTDOT on schedule, phasing, constructability, materials availability, risk and cost. This integrated team approach, involving the Contractor early in the project, adds value by reducing construction duration, reducing impacts, improving construction sequencing and reducing risk.
    • See the full Program Team here.
  15. How long will construction of the Walk Bridge Replacement take? How will construction progress?
    • Construction on the Walk Bridge is estimated to take 4 - 5 years.
    • The first year consists mostly of in-water work and establishing the construction staging areas. This includes demolition of the IMAX theater and relocation of the railroad power lines underground. The Program then removes the existing high towers and constructs the lift towers for the new Walk Bridge. Construction of the two southern tracks will follow. The Walk Bridge’s southern half approaches are constructed and the southern lift span is built off-site and floated-in, to be installed over an extended weekend. The existing swing span (all four tracks) is simultaneously removed and floated north for demolition. The Program would then open the two new southern tracks and begin work on the northern half of the bridge. This work mirrors the southern half and extends into year(s) four and/or five. The completion of the northern and southern halves of the bridges at Fort Point Street, East Avenue, and Osborne Avenue will coincide with track outages for the Walk Bridge.

  16. What environmental documentation has taken place for the Program?
    • The Walk Bridge Replacement Project underwent an Environmental Assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and an Environmental Impact Evaluation (EA/EIE) in accordance with the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA). The goal of this environmental review was to promote informed decision-making by considering a range of reasonable alternatives and analysis leading to selection of a preferred alternative.
    • On July 17, 2017, the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Walk Bridge Replacement project in compliance with NEPA. By doing so, FTA has determined that further evaluation is not required under NEPA.
    • Under the CEPA process, CTDOT submitted a Record of Decision (ROD) to the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM) in June 2017; and in a letter dated July 6, 2017 OPM determined that the EA/EIE satisfies the requirements of CEPA for this project.
    • Separate environmental reviews have been completed for the CP243 Interlocking and Danbury Branch Dockyard Projects.
  17. What historic impacts will the Program have and what is being done to mitigate potential impacts?
    • A movable bridge on the Norwalk River has been a staple of life in Norwalk for generations. The Walk Bridge Replacement provides a modern solution to secure Norwalk's transportation future while maintaining a link to its historic past. The Walk Bridge is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places and is subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. A preliminary historic assessment was conducted as part of the Section 106 Process to identify the Area of Potential Effect, or the area within which the Program may directly or indirectly affect historic properties. Design meetings were held in August 2015 and February 2016 to identify potential impacts and mitigation for historic resources.
    • An archaeological investigation was conducted based on a preliminary historic assessment. The investigation yielded the discovery of a Contact-Period, Native American trading fort. The Program plans to work with local historical organizations in Norwalk to arrange exhibits and educational programming for the local community.
  18. Is the Eversource Cable Relocation Project part of the Walk Bridge Program?

    Eversource Cable Relocation is a separate project managed by Eversource. For more information on this project, please visit the Eversource website.

  19. Why is it named the Walk Bridge?

    While commonly referred to as the "Walk Bridge" by the public, the structure’s official name is the "Norwalk River Railroad Bridge, Bridge No. 04288R, MP 41.5". Over time, "Norwalk River Bridge" was shortened to the "Walk Bridge" that is commonly used today. Similarly, the movable "Saga" bridge in Westport refers to the Saugatuck River over which the rail line passes.

  20. Is the Program coordinating with neighboring construction projects?

    Coordination with other projects takes place throughout the Walk Bridge Program with the goal of reducing construction impacts for residents, businesses and commuters. CTDOT and the Walk Bridge Program team meet regularly with municipal leaders, private developers and project sponsors to coordinate with other planned construction projects, including repairs on the Yankee Doodle and Stroffolino Bridges, the General Growth Partners "SoNo Collection" mall and city projects. A listing of these projects can be found on our related projects map.

  21. Is the Program involved in the community?

    The Walk Bridge Program is coordinating closely with numerous community stakeholders including the City of Norwalk, Norwalk Harbor Management and Shellfish Commissions, Marine Police, local neighborhood groups and associations, the business community, local transit organizations, historical groups, rowing clubs, residents, commuters, arts organizations, schools, and more. If you would like to schedule a meeting for your group or organization, please contact the Public Information Team.

  22. How can I learn more about the Program, have additional questions answered or get involved?
    • Comments or questions about the Walk Bridge Program can be submitted via our website or at info@walkbridgect.com and by phone 1-833-GO2-WALK (1-822-462-9255). Sign up for email alerts to receive Program notifications, public meeting notices and weekly Construction News updates.
    • The Program hosts public meetings, participates in community events and posts information on our social media accounts. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
    • You can speak with a Program representative in-person at the Walk Bridge Welcome Center on 24 Marshall Street in South Norwalk. Welcome Center Hours:
      • Tuesday 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
      • Wednesday 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
      • Thursday 12:30 - 4:30 PM

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