Facelifts expected for old railroad bridges thanks to $20M from State Bond Commission

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Two Metro-North bridges in southwestern Connecticut are getting some badly needed facelifts.

If you head from Westport to Grand Central, the trip can take up to an hour and a half. The trip to Manhattan today is actually longer than 40 years ago, as trains have to slow down over multiple old bridges. But funds are on the way that could shave some time off those delays.

The State Bond Commission is expected to approve $20 million for bridge projects next week. The money will go to repairs for the rusty Saugatuck River Bridge, which dates back to the Theodore Roosevelt era, as well as the Cos Cob Bridge in Greenwich. 

The bridges are expected to get new steel, as well as mechanical and electrical repairs. 

The Department of Transportation says the Saugatuck River Bridge is expected to see the replacement of the diesel engines with electric motors for improved reliability; the conversion of span drive to electric drive; the addition of a hard stop for span opening to protect miter rails; stabilization repair to Pier 2 masonry, where movement has been identified; structural repair and modification of drop-down walkway framing and incorporation of an interlock switch.

The Cos Cob Bridge should see the replacement of the toe lock assembly and span lock drive at the heel, as well as the replacement of the obsolete control system.

The state says the repairs will mainly reduce delays. Work on both bridges should be done by next spring. Riders should not expect any changes to train schedules.

But long-term, the debate continues over highway tolls to free up more cash.

"This project is going to extend the lifespan of the Saugatuck railroad bridge by 15 to 20 years," says state Sen. Will Haskell (D-Westport). "We need a long-term plan."

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