CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
2800 BERLIN TURNPIKE P.O. BOX 317546
NEWINGTON CONNECTICUT, 06131-7546
|FOR RELEASE: May 6, 2014||
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
TELEPHONE: (860) 594-3062
FAX: (860) 594-3065
WEB SITE: www.ct.gov/dot
GOV. MALLOY: COMPLETION OF NEW HAVEN LINE POWER UPGRADE PROJECT MEANS SAFER, MORE RELIABLE SERVICE FOR CONNECTICUT RAIL COMMUTERS
Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) Commissioner James Redeker and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, today announced that nearly 80 percent of the overhead power lines on the New Haven commuter rail between Southport and Bridgeport have been replaced. With the completion of the current project phase to replace the “catenary” wires along the 100-plus year old New Haven Line, Metro-North will be able to route peak period trains on all four tracks in this seven-mile area for the first time since 2010. The project is being funded and managed by ConnDOT.
“The New Haven Line is the single busiest commuter rail in the country, yet much of the power source and equipment that is critical to providing residents with the safe and reliable service we expect is deteriorating and needs to be replaced,” said Governor Malloy. “We are making excellent progress to update and upgrade all aspects of our commuter rail infrastructure and, in particular, replacing the aging catenary wires will give us greater operating flexibility and the ability to get around potential service disruptions during emergencies. Now that all tracks between Southport and Bridgeport are available for service for the first time in years, we will see more reliable service and scheduling for trains during peak periods, the elimination of temporary speed restrictions and little to no impact on trains when there are operational problems in this section of the railroad.”
The work on the overhead power lines work, which began in 2007, had required two of the four tracks to be out of service continuously resulting in trains needing to slow down while passing the work zone and when changing tracks at either end of the construction area. One of the two tracks was returned to service on April 26 in time for the May 11 schedule change and the other is expected to return later this month. Metro-North, the operator of the railroad, is performing track maintenance and, once completed, final adjustments to the wire will be made by the contractor and Metro-North’s signal department will complete its work and return the track to service.
“The process for replacing the remaining, and final segment of catenary wire has been completely reworked to expedite the completion of this important infrastructure,” said ConnDOT Commissioner Redeker. “The new work will focus on replacing the wire but not repairing railroad bridges right away. This will save substantial time and only require a single track to be out of service for the duration of the project, resulting in minimal impacts on Metro-North operations in the area. Our goal is to deliver this project as quickly as possible to ensure the most reliable service possible to all of the customers on the New Haven Line.”
Rehabilitation work on some bridges on the New Haven Line had originally been included in the scope of the current project, however, the DOT has decided to prioritize the catenary project in order to complete it on an expedited timeline. Once the catenary work is completed in 2017, work on the bridges will begin. The bridges are inspected at least once a year by DOT engineers.
Once completed, the $386.5 million project will replace the original catenary first erected in 1907. The old “fixed termination” catenary system – which can sag or contract due to changes in temperature, resulting in wire damage – is being replaced with a state-of-the-art constant tension system. As the name implies, this type of construction can better accommodate temperature extremes.
Also replaced were four open-deck railroad bridges in Bridgeport and Fairfield, (at North Benson Road, Fairfield Avenue, South Avenue and Westway Road) with closed-deck ballast-style bridges that provide a smoother ride. Another bridge at Main Street in Bridgeport was removed and filled in with backfill material flanked by retaining walls.
The next phase of the project will take place in two areas — from East Norwalk to Green’s Farms and from Bridgeport to Devon — involving replacement of about 10.5 miles of catenary along the tracks and in the Bridgeport Rail Maintenance Yard.
At the end of August, the contractor will move on to the final segment of catenary work, which when finished in spring of 2017, will signal the completion of the project on the Connecticut portion of the line.