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East Norwalk: Don't Raise Clearance On New East Avenue Railroad Bridge

Norwalk resident and 3rd Taxing District commissioner Deb Goldstein protests the design of the new East Avenue Bridge at city hall Tuesday evening. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky
Norwalk residents turned out at city hall Tuesday evening to protest the new design for the East Avenue Bridge. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky

NORWALK, Conn. — A contingent of East Norwalk residents and business owners voiced their concerns over the design of a replacement East Avenue railroad bridge during a protest in front of City Hall on Tuesday evening.

“They have a simple request of those proposing to increase the clearance under the railroad bridge on East Avenue,” Norwalk resident Deb Goldstein said on behalf of the protesters. “Please don’t do it.”

The state’s design for the new bridge, which will replace one built in 1905, includes a greater clearance to prevent trucks from becoming stuck under the bridge. But those who live in the neighborhood believe the new bridge will increase traffic.

Goldstein said she, residents and business owners support “common sense solutions” to the bridge clearance problem. These measures, which would be less expensive than lowering the street, include hanging chains or lasers before the bridge to warn trucks of the low clearance.

Goldstein also opposes the new bridge design out of environmental concerns. With concerns over global warming and rising sea levels, she said science calls for “raising, not lowering structures, in coastal communities.” She said that it’s possible to build the bridge without lowering the street as other communities have done on existing bridges with low clearances.

The East Avenue project will include sidewalks, retaining walls, drainage improvements, modification to existing traffic signals and a new drainage trunk line.

It will also allow passengers to change tracks without crossing the avenue, “but, it still will not lengthen the platform sufficiently to allow all cars to platform on a typical eight-car rush hour configuration,” according to a website set up by those oppose the project’s current design .

Goldstein said she is grateful for the state’s investment in Norwalk but said she wants the state to realize local concerns.

“We recognize that the state of Connecticut is making substantial investments to Norwalk’s transportation infrastructure, but with all these changes comes some unintended consequences,” Goldstein said.

Despite the protest from residents, the Common Council's Public Works Committee on Tuesday evening advanced a $359,000 engineering study for the reconstruction of East Avenue, The Hour reported .

Councilman John E. Igneri said residents would still have time to have input into the bridge project, the Hour said.

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