FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Residents can expect chaos on highways and rail lines in Fairfield County for at least the next week as crews continue to repair damage caused by Friday evening’s train collision, Gov. Dannel Malloy said Sunday evening.
“There are going to be substantial delays until we get this line back in full service,” Malloy said in a press conference. “Residents should plan for a week’s worth of disruptions. The delays will not be limited to mass transit, as more people get behind the wheel to drive and make their own connections.”
The state will activate the Emergency Operations Center to help manage the crowed highways. Connecticut State Police and the state’s tow services will also be prepared to clear accidents quickly.
The state will have 150 buses on the highways as train shuttles, in addition to the normal rush-hour traffic. Malloy also noted that the weather is expected to be wet Monday morning, causing more potential problems. About 30,000 rail commuters’ rides will be affected by the disruptions, he said.
“If all of those were to get on the highway in single-occupancy cars, we will literally have a parking lot,” Malloy said.
Malloy asked commuters to carpool or work from home if possible for the next week. He also suggested that those who work in New York find places to stay in the city until Metro North’s New Haven Line is back to full capacity.
Metro-North announced Sunday that it would have shuttle trains running between New Haven and Bridgeport and bus service bridging the gap from Bridgeport to Stamford until further notice. Trains will run as normal between South Norwalk and Grand Central Terminal on the New Haven Line, with limited service to Westport.
“The shuttle services will be operating, but it will be very difficult for customers,” Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said Sunday. “There will be lines. It will take longer. It’s going to be a difficult commute if that’s your option.”
For commuters who decide to drive part of the way, parking will be free even without permits at the Darien and Noroton Heights stations. However, Darien Police warn that the area near the stations is expected to be chaotic during rush hours Monday.
“Commuters are encouraged to arrive at train stations earlier than usual to allow time to find sufficient parking,” the Darien Police said in a press release. “Motorists are urged to use caution while traveling to or through these areas.”
A total of 76 people were hospitalized after Friday’s collision, Malloy said Sunday. Of those, six are still at St. Vincent’s and Bridgeport Hospital combined. One is still in critical condition.
“We have not had an accident like this in any recent time,” Malloy said.
The National Transportation Safety Board will turn over the crash scene to local authorities Sunday evening, so the Department of Transportation and the MTA can begin replacing the removed sections of track, NTSB member Earl Weener said Sunday.
The NTSB will continue analyzing the most damaged cars in the Bridgeport rail yard. Two sections of rails are also heading to a laboratory in Washington for analysis. It will take about a year before the final report on the incident is complete, Weener said.