Commuters Frustrated by Metro-North Bridge Problems

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Julietta Coscia
    Commuters are waiting for transportation.

    Service has resumed in both directions of Metro-North's New Haven Line following problems closing the Walk Bridge in South Norwalk for the second time in a week, and commuters vented their frustrations Friday. 

    This is the same bridge that there were problems with just over a week ago and the Friday evening commute has been impacted.

    "I pay for a monthly ticket. I shouldn't have to walk," said Mary Fareira, of Waterbury, who followed the crowd from South Norwalk to East Norwalk after a mechanical problem stopped train service.

    Full service has resumed on the New Haven Line. Limited service was implemented earlier Friday, trains traveling at a reduced speed of 15 miles an hour, according to Aaron Donovan, a spokesperson for the MTA. Train service began again at 6:20 p.m.

    The Walk Bridge has been closed and service is restored between South and East Norwalk, according to a Metro-North alert. There will likely be further delays and "crowded conditions due to significant congestion in the vicinity of South Norwalk," according to Metro-North. Announcements with updates will be made on the trains.

    Routes on either side of South Norwalk were closed earlier as repair crews worked to fix the problem, but Metro-North expect that the repairs might take several hours. MTA officials and police also responded to assist with the crowds, police said.

    Twenty-four buses were sent from the Bronx to transport passengers between South Norwalk and East Norwalk, according to Metro-North. Trains are scheduled to run between Grand Central and South Norwalk and between East Norwalk and New Haven. 

    Amtrak service on both the Northeast regional and Acela lines are also affected, holding trains at Penn Station for several hours. Amtrack service is up and running again between New York and New Haven, with delays expected Friday eveningl

    Service between Stamford and Bridgeport is disrupted because of bridge problems, but the Stamford line to Grand Central wasn't affected.

    When this problem happened last Thursday morning, Metro-North said gear failed during overnight testing. The bridge was stuck open for much of the morning commute, which created crowded conditions.

    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is calling for a "crisis summit" with MTA and Metro-North to discuss the bridge failures, according to a news release.

    “This is now the second major failure in two weeks, leaving thousands of passengers stranded and causing unacceptable delays. Let me be clear, this is outrageous," Malloy said in a statement. "In speaking with MTA and Metro-North, my administration has stressed that every procedure, protocol and engineering solution must get the immediate attention of the most qualified team of experts. It is of the upmost importance that these operating, maintenance, alternative service and customer protocols be completely critiqued and that near term solutions be found to ensure reliable service for Connecticut commuters.

    Metro-North officials said the bridge is 118 years old, but the state has invested more than $1.5 million in recent years to improve bridge reliability. Malloy said the recent problems with the bridge heighten the need to replace the bridge, which he called "a central link to the entire Northeast Corridor."

    "We simply cannot afford peak service disruptions like this, which is why we have requested and are aggressively pursuing federal Resiliency funding for this exact purpose," Malloy said.

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) echoed Malloy's sentiments and said he plans to "work with the full delegation to ensure Connecticut's transportation infrastructure receives the immediate attention and funding it needs and deserves."

    The bridge also had a similar problem in 2011, in some cases keeping passengers on the train for two hours before they could transfer to a bus.