THE WALK Bridge PROGRAM
The WALK Bridge Program comprises several inter-related rail and infrastructure projects in Norwalk, CT.
The centerpiece project replaces the Norwalk River Railroad Bridge - known locally as the WALK Bridge.
The WALK Bridge is a four-track railroad bridge that serves as a critical link in the busiest rail corridor in the nation, the Northeast Corridor (NEC).
Replacement of the 127-year-old WALK Bridge will strengthen commuter rail safety, enhance commuting reliability and increase operational efficiency along the New Haven Line and Northeast Corridor.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) can streamline work by coordinating a number of identified needs around planned track outages for the WALK Bridge Replacement Project.
This shortens overall track outages and construction duration while saving money through synergies created by combining individual projects with consistent design and construction teams. This comprehensive and pragmatic solution preserves and improves essential railroad assets in Norwalk and Connecticut for another 100 years.
Several infrastructure initiatives include track and catenary upgrades along the New Haven Line and Danbury Branch, upgrades to the East Norwalk Train Station, replacement of four local railroad bridges along the New Haven Line, and roadway and utility improvements on Fort Point Street and East Avenue in East Norwalk.
WALK Bridge-related projects, either underway or nearing completion, include:
- The CP243 Interlocking Project
- The Danbury Branch Dockyard Project
- East Catenary and Track Breakout Project
- The Advanced Utilities Project
Information about WALK Bridge-related projects and CTDOT's TIME-2 Projects can be found here.
The Walk Bridge
The WALK Bridge is a four-track railroad crossing the Norwalk River, connecting South and East Norwalk in southern Connecticut. Built in the 1890s, the WALK Bridge is one of the oldest movable bridges in the region.
The existing 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 (NEC), connecting Boston, New York, and Washington D.C.
The bridge allows MNR, Amtrak and freight trains to travel over the Norwalk River. Pre-pandemic, approximately 125,000 passengers and 175 trains travel over the WALK Bridge daily.
WHY REPLACE THE BRIDGE NOW?
The WALK Bridge needs to be replaced immediately, not five or 25 years from now, and it's legally required that the replacement bridge allows for river navigation.
One of the oldest movable bridges on the Northeast Corridor, the 127-year-old four-span swing bridge has outlived its lifespan.
The 564-foot-long WALK Bridge has been subject to continued operational failures and is vulnerable to damage from harsh weather conditions and requires replacement.
In 1990, a significant rehabilitation was conducted on the bridge. By 2011, a pattern of failures became apparent, and in 2014, the bridge failed within a two-week period on two separate occasions. These failures prompted the Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner to sign an Emergency Declaration letter in 2014, resulting in the need to replace the Walk Bridge.
- 2011 – Failed 12 times out of 138 openings
- 2013 – Failed 16 times out of 271 openings
- 2014 – Failed twice within a 2-week period
- CTDOT Commissioner signs Emergency Declaration letter on July 8, 2014
In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard mandated repairs on the existing fender system at the center (pivot) pier of the WALK Bridge to avoid a public safety issue due to the condition at the east channel. The repairs were made in the summer of 2016 to replace deteriorated portions of the existing fender system with new timber support piles and horizontal timber walers (bracing).
The future walk bridge
The new WALK Bridge will be a reliable, redundant and resilient structure, improving rail dependability along the NEC.
The new bridge will remain a moveable span as the channel is classified as a federal navigable waterway.
The new bridge will strengthen commuter rail safety, enhance commuting reliability and increase operational efficiency along the New Haven Line and Northeast Corridor. The project will also improve the Norwalk River's recreational and commercial maritime navigation.
Through infrastructure investment, the WALK Bridge and over a half-dozen inter-related projects improve valuable assets in Norwalk—the Norwalk River, the rail line, and local roads.
Residents, businesses, first responders and Coast Guard personnel rely on the Norwalk River for deliveries, safety protocols, and leisure. The river is a federally designated navigable waterway, and, as such, there is a legal mandate for the WALK Bridge Replacement to allow for navigability on the river. The new bridge meets Coast Guard guidance advising that a 60' vertical clearance equal to that of the Yankee Doodle Bridge (I-95) upstream meets the river's reasonable navigation needs.
The WALK Bridge project maintains a vibrant waterfront in Norwalk, allowing navigation and dredging to continue upriver and leaving opportunities for upstream development for future generations.