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Metro-North Probes Walk Bridge Failure As It Draws Praise For Rider Updates

Jim Cameron
Jim Cameron Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — A Fairfield County commuter activist praised Metro-North’s quick and frequent rider updates after a malfunction at Norwalk’s aging Walk Bridge on Saturday halted train traffic and caused huge delays.

“Information is power, and when stuff doesn’t work, what you need is fast, accurate, credible information, and I think the railroad provided that,” Commuter Action Group founder Jim Cameron told the Daily Voice.

Cameron said he received the first text alert from the railroad within minutes and said the railroad then provided frequent updates.

Metro-North spokeswoman Nancy Gamerman told the Daily Voice on Tuesday that the Walk Bridge was scheduled to swing open for a sailboat at about 2 p.m. Saturday. But the opening was aborted due to “mechanical difficulties experienced when it was initiated.”

After the incident, Metro-North said the bridge will remain closed to water traffic until further notice . Gamerman did not have a timetable yet for when the bridge will open again for passing boats on the Norwalk River.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation owns the Walk Bridge, and Metro-North Railroad operates the bridge, according to Gamerman.

“Both parties will make the determination about when the bridge will be reopen for river traffic,” Gamerman said in an email.

Cameron doesn’t blame the railroad for Saturday’s problem, which followed two rush-hour malfunctions in 2014 . “I don't think it's their fault that the state of Connecticut, which owns that bridge and those rail tracks, has waited 100 years to replace that bridge.”

Cameron said he has faith in the engineers at the Department of Transportation. They would have considered alternatives to replacing the bridge — or perhaps locking it into place — if those options were viable, he said. And he does recognize the importance of keeping marine traffic flowing under the bridge.

Speaking about the other moveable bridges on the New Haven Line — not just the Walk Bridge — Cameron said the state can’t simply replace them with fixed bridges.

“I think that there are good reasons to keep those waterways navigable and open to shipping, which means you can’t just lock down the bridge in place,” he said.

The massive delays plagued the New Haven Line for much of Saturday. Train service was halted in both directions over the bridge for a few hours after the bridge failure at about 2:30 p.m. After some repairs, trains were able to run on one track across the bridge, but delays of up to 90 minutes continued.

By late Saturday, three of the four tracks had been restored, and the fourth track was repaired by Sunday morning.

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