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Fixing Connecticut River Bridge inches Amtrak closer to electrifying the Northeast Corridor

The current Connecticut River Bridge connecting towns Old SayBrook and Old Lyme since 1907
The current Connecticut River Bridge connecting towns Old SayBrook and Old Lyme since 1907

Amtrak will begin finding contractors in early 2023 for construction of a new Connecticut River Bridge.

The bridge was constructed in 1907 by the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company of Chicago to connect the towns of Old Lyme and Old Saybrook across the Connecticut River. Also known as the Connecticut River Railroad Bridge or the Amtrak Old Saybrook-Old Lyme Bridge, the lifting bridge has many outdated systems and has become stuck several times in the 21st century.

“Necessary improvements to Connecticut’s rail infrastructure are on the way,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in a statement on Friday. “The Connecticut River Bridge is an essential part of the Northeast Corridor’s busy rail line, and in dire need of repairs.”

The upgrade will ease travel along the passenger rail service through Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor — spanning from Washington D.C. to Boston — by cutting down on commute times at Connecticut River Bridge, which has become a chokepoint in recent years. Construction of the new bridge will include a new electrified two-track with a moveable bridge. That means improving the line’s power and communication systems, controls, and security features.

The project is part of the nearly $13 billion state plan to improve its railways over the next five years. Hearst Connecticut Media reports this plan to upgrade infrastructure along the rail line would decrease travel time to New York by 25 minutes, connecting trains from New Haven to Penn Station, adding Wi-Fi to all trains, and more.

“What is important to the riders here in Connecticut: Reliability, speed, safety, making sure the trains run on time”, said U.S. Department of Transportation Senior Advisor Carlo Leone. “All those are things that this plan addressed and incorporates and invests in for the future.”

Construction of the new Connecticut River Bridge is expected to begin in early 2024 and will have a lifespan of 150 years.

Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.