The Walk Bridge is a century-old “swing bridge” in Norwalk that carries hundreds of trains each day along Connecticut’s southern coast.
When the bridge opens for boats to cross on the river below, it can sometimes get stuck -- which happened as recently as last week. The malfunctions can cause delays for thousands of commuters along the Northeast Corridor, so the state is planning a $1 billion replacement.
But a group of Norwalk citizens and business owners is concerned with the project’s impact on the city -- and is suing the state and federal government.
The crux of the issue is river navigability.
The state Department of Transportation wants to keep boat traffic alive and allow larger vessels to move up the Norwalk River by building another bridge that opens and closes.
But some citizens and business owners in Norwalk say there aren’t too many boaters who need the bridge to open -- and that building a new bridge will cause congestion and noise at a cost to the businesses around it.
“How many will survive all this disruption for a couple of years -- nobody really knows, but a lot of them are going to suffer grievously from having this giant project,” said Bill Collins, former Mayor of Norwalk, who joined several other community leaders at a press conference in Hartford.
The citizens group, Norwalk Harbor Keeper, called for the state to reconsider construction alternatives that would be cheaper and have less of an impact on surrounding businesses.
The state’s current plan is to to build a bridge that will lift vertically for boat traffic.
In federal court documents, the state denies the group’s allegation that its environmental analysis is inadequate. Last summer, Federal Transit Administration issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” for the project.
The bridge is in its design phase, with construction slated to begin in 2019.