Sen. Blumenthal: Pleasure Boating Community May Have To Take A Back Seat

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and officials of the New York region’s commuter transit system have announced they will review detailed operations of a 118-year-old bridge along the Metro-North Railroad that has failed twice in less than two weeks.

Malloy and other state officials met in New York on Monday with officials of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metro-North Railroad. The Walk Bridge over the Norwalk River was stuck in the open position on Friday, the second time in eight days, delaying the commutes of thousands of riders into and out of New York City.

Metro-North Service Failure

Metro-North New Haven line commuters had to walk on Friday, June 6, after a bridge failure in Norwalk, Connecticut. (Credit: Alan Horowitz, via Twitter)

“This thing should have been done a long, long time ago,” Malloy said. “There is no doubt that we are now seeing the effects of decades of neglect when it comes to investing in our infrastructure.”

Malloy told reporters, including CBS 2’s Dick Brennan, the trouble dates back to 2008 when plans for a new bridge fell through and because no money was put into the project.

“While we clearly have much more work to do, I hope that residents know my administration is committed to making investments that were put off for far too long,” Malloy added.

Some commuters told Brennan they have a solution: don’t open the bridge at all.

“They should probably just close it and fix. That way this won’t happen and inconvenience people,” said Francesca Simoncelli of Fairfield.

“I think they should keep it closed,” added Woodbridge resident Lee Rosenbaum.

But the governor and MTA won’t go that far, Brennan reported.

“We’re going to expedite the replacement of the bridge,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said. “In the interim, try to reduce the frequency of openings.”

“Every time this 118-year-old bridge fails to close properly, our customers suffer the consequences of decades of delay and neglect,” Prendergast added.

Metro-North President Joe Giletti told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond opening the bridge five to six times a week takes great effort.

“It is extremely labor intensive,” he said. “We have somewhere in the vicinity of 30 to 40 people have to be there.”

State officials admitted that sometimes the bridge is opened just for pleasure boats with tall masts.

“There is some movements of sailboats that require it. There is charter boat that is kept down in that part of the harbor, but the main reasons are delivery of building materials,” Malloy said.

“Clearly, if there are a handful of recreational boaters who want access to the Sound from their marinas, there interests may have to take second place to the interests of thousands of commuters,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal added.

Replacing the bridge is expect cost upwards of $500 million, Diamond reported. Until that is done, Malloy wants to use up to $300 million in Superstorm Sandy resiliency funds to pay for protection measures, Brennan reported.

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