Beyond the Bridge: Work Continues on Areas Around Walk Bridge Project

Wetlands work, water main relocation, and demolition of an old IMAX theater are some of the smaller Walk Bridge-related projects taking place around the Norwalk area.

Beyond the Bridge: Work Continues on Areas Around Walk Bridge Project
A look at the work taking place on the wetlands near Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk. (Photo by Kelly Prinz)

While the most obvious—and expensive—parts of the Walk Bridge construction project include replacing the 127-year-old train bridge and other bridges along the New Haven line, there are other ancillary projects in the works.

In July, work began on the wetlands around Oyster Shell Park. The goal is to excavate a portion of the wetlands that run along the Norwalk Harbor to “remove invasive species,” according to a release from the Walk Bridge project team.

“The result will be the construction of a living shoreline, including plantings, oyster cultch, and a terrapin habitat area,” the release stated.

As a part of the work, the Allison Wyatt Playground in Norwalk will be closed until the end of September. The rest of the park, as well as the Norwalk River Valley Trail which runs through the area, will remain open, but users are asked to be vigilant around the construction site.

A look at some of the work along the Norwalk River to create a "living shoreline." (Photo by Kelly Prinz)

This project was first announced back in 2019, when officials thought it would take place in 2021, but construction delays pushed it to this year.

In addition, construction crews are working to finish removing the demolished IMAX theater that was a part of the Maritime Aquarium, which sits next to the Walk Bridge itself. A new 4-D theater was already constructed for the aquarium to replace the IMAX.

Additional track work is also taking place on the Danbury Branch and the New Haven line.

Eversource Work

As a part of the project, the electric lines that go over the top of the bridge must be relocated. Eversource, which is responsible for this work, planned a new route for the lines, taking them under the river.

“The proposed route has the two existing lines exiting the railroad corridor at the Norwalk Police Department and transitioning to underground cable beneath the Police Station parking lot and Elizabeth Street,” a statement from Eversource reads. “From Water Street, we would place the lines under the Norwalk River. The lines would then continue underground in Veteran's Memorial Park in the area of the park entrance off Fort Point Street. The cables would continue beneath Fort Point Street, where they would reconnect to the rail corridor in the vicinity of the Fort Point Bridge.”

But before the lines can be installed underground along Elizabeth Street, an existing water line needs to be relocated, which Eversource and South Norwalk Electric and Water are working on now.

This month, construction for the waterline relocation is taking place on Elizabeth Street between South Main Street and Water St, so residents are asked to keep an eye for road closures and detours in the area.

About the Walk Bridge Project

In May, with trains rumbling by in the background, state, federal, and local leaders gathered to officially break ground on the construction for the bridge and highlight the importance of replacing it.

“The day that we’ve all been waiting for is finally here,” Mayor Harry Rilling said.

The current bridge, which was built in 1896, is a swing bridge that rotates to allow for boats and barges to pass underneath it. It’s been during openings, or rotations, of the bridge that most of the problems occur. Officials said that “by 2011, a pattern of failures became apparent.”

According to CTDOT, the bridge failed 12 times in 138 openings in 2011; 16 times in 271 openings in 2013; and twice within a two-week period in 2014 which prompted the CTDOT commissioner at the time to sign an Emergency Declaration for the bridge that July.

Learn more about the Walk Bridge project and how it will impact the southwest Connecticut region.