The state Department of Transportation has completed nearly 80 percent of a years-long project to replace overhead power lines on the Metro-North New Haven Line, Gov. Dannel Malloy and DOT Commissioner James Redeker announced Tuesday.
Work on the power line project began in 2007 and should be completely finished by the spring of 2017, according to a release from Malloy’s office.
The milestone announced today will allow Metro-North to run trains on all four tracks between Southport and Bridgeport during peak travel times for the first time since 2010, the release says.
Malloy said the project will result in more reliable train service and problems that arise in the area will have “little to no impact on trains” running through the seven-mile stretch.
Since the $386.5 million project began, two tracks have been out of service for construction. One of those tracks went back into service April 26 and the second will return to service later this month, according to the release.
It comes just in time for Metro-North scheduling changes that will shorten the morning commute and is scheduled to take effect May 11.
“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,” Malloy said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
The construction project is designed to replace the original catenary, installed in 1907. Four open-deck railroad bridges in Bridgeport and Fairfield were also replaced, according to the release.
The next phase of the project will take place from East Norwalk to Green’s Farms and from Bridgeport to Devon and will upgrade about 10.5 miles of power lines. New wires incorporate a “constant tension system” that performs better in extreme temperature conditions, according to the release.
Initially, the project included construction on some New Haven Line bridges, but work on the catenary has taken precedence. Once it’s completed in 2017, bridge work will begin, the release says.
“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 Redeker, in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
The final stage of the power line project will kick off at the end of August, according to the release.