The Walk Bridge is a four-track railroad bridge built in 1896 that crosses the Norwalk River, connecting South and East Norwalk. One of the oldest movable bridges in the region, the 564-foot long, swing bridge is part of Metro-North Railroad’s (MNR) New Haven Line and a critical link in the busiest rail corridor in the nation—The Northeast Corridor–which connects Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. The Walk Bridge carries approximately 175 trains and 125,000 riders each day, with ridership expected to double by 2030. The Norwalk River is a federally designated, navigable waterway trafficked by commercial and recreational maritime operators.
The Walk Bridge has outlived its intended lifespan and has experienced repeated operational failures in recent years. It is vulnerable to damage from storm surges and high winds, and requires replacement. In 2014, Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, James Redeker, signed an emergency declaration due to operational failures that resulted in major disruptions to the railroad. Purpose and Need
Replacing the Walk Bridge is a complex project. It requires construction to be performed in the highly-developed, commercial and residential area of historic South Norwalk, while maintaining rail service and navigation on the Norwalk River.
To address these challenges, CTDOT is working closely with the City of Norwalk, stakeholders, neighbors and rail and maritime users to reduce and mitigate construction impacts to the extent possible. CTDOT is coordinating with MNR and Amtrak to develop a plan for maintaining rail service and with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Norwalk Harbor Management Commission about navigation on the river throughout construction. Coordination with the Maritime Aquarium, nearby condominiums, Lock and Ironworks Buildings, local businesses and other neighbors is ongoing to address potential impacts during construction. Get Involved
The 240' Vertical Lift Bridge
In compliance with the National and Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (NEPA/CEPA) processes, design of the selected alternative advanced after a Finding of No Significant Impact and a Record of Decision were issued in Summer 2017.
The 240’ Vertical Lift Bridge alternative was selected for the Walk Bridge replacement after extensive analysis determined that it would provide design and construction benefits over the other movable bridge alternatives. Benefits include:
-Shortest construction schedule
-Lowest risk during construction
-Improved river channel alignment with the Stroffolino Bridge
-Prevention of extended navigational restrictions
-Greater architectural and aesthetic flexibility
When complete, the new Walk Bridge will continue as a vital link in the regional passenger and freight rail system improving performance, reliability and safety. The new bridge will improve navigation on the Norwalk River, providing a higher vertical clearance, an unobstructed channel alignment with the Stroffolino Bridge and reliable bridge openings. The reliability and resiliency of the new bridge will support continued commuter and tourism growth in Norwalk, CT.
Construction of the New Walk Bridge
In addition to replacing the existing bridge, elements of the project include: east and west approach embankment work and retaining walls, track work, catenary and signal system upgrades, new catenary structures, removal of the existing high towers and relocation of high-voltage transmission lines.
To take advantage of two-track railroad outages necessary for the Walk Bridge construction, this project will include infrastructure improvements needed on nearby railroad bridges. This work includes the rehabilitation of the rail bridge over Fort Point Street, a single-span structure—now in deteriorated condition—carrying four MNR tracks. The goal is to provide a safe and reliable structure with structural capacities to accommodate the demand from passenger and freight equipment and meet today's industry standards. Fort Point Street will be realigned with S. Smith Street to improve the line of sight visibility as well as safety for pedestrians and motorists. The Program will also replace the rail bridge over East Avenue and the superstructure of the rail bridge over Osborne Avenue during the construction of the Walk Bridge.
Key Milestones & Cost
FINALIZED ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENTS: September 2017
ANTICIPATED FINAL DESIGN: Spring/Summer 2019
ANTICIPATED CONSTRUCTION START: Fall 2019
ANTIPICIPATED CONSTRUCTION DURATION: 4-5 Years
ESTIMATED OVERALL PROJECT COST: $736 Million (includes Fort Point St. Bridge)
ESTIMATED WALK BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION COST: $510 Million