Blumenthal calls on Coast Guard to keep walk bridge closed - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Blumenthal calls on Coast Guard to keep Metro-North walk bridge closed

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A photo of the walk bridge that failed in South Norwalk on Friday. (CBS photo) A photo of the walk bridge that failed in South Norwalk on Friday. (CBS photo)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal called on the Coast Guard to reduce the amount of time the bridge is opened. (WFSB photo) Sen. Richard Blumenthal called on the Coast Guard to reduce the amount of time the bridge is opened. (WFSB photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Local officials continue to grill Metro-North about its recent walk bridge problems.

After two weeks of problems Gov. Dannel Malloy and United States Sen. Richard Blumenthal are putting pressure on Metro North to make changes.

For the second time in two weeks the bridge in South Norwalk became stuck on Friday and left commuters stranded. The first incident happened on May 29.

Blumenthal called on the Coast Guard to immediately reduce the frequency that the 118-year-old bridge was opened. He said the bridge had a 6 percent fail rate.

The walk bridge swings open to allow commercial and personal watercraft through, and sometimes doesn't close to the point where the train track lines back up. Last year the bridge opened 271 times and got stuck open 16 times.

"The fact of the matter is, the walk bridge malfunctions affect thousands of people on the east coast of the United States and nationally because the economic ramifications span the United States," Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said he helped draft a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation for $349 million to be expedited from the storm Sandy disaster relief fund. That money would be joined with another $160 million that the state of Connecticut has allocated. The total would then go towards replacing the bridge.

In the meantime, he said there were steps that could be taken to help commuters.

"The Coast Guard can greatly minimize the potential risk of this delay and disruption very simply by drastically reducing the times that the bridge is open," he said.

Blumenthal called on the Coast Guard to restrict and reduce the bridge's openings. He said the reasons for how much it opened were unclear.

"But the reasons it should be kept closed during peak commuting hours are clear," he said.

The bridge can take anywhere from 90 minutes to, in Friday's case, five hours to close once it was stuck in the open position, according to the senator.

Malloy met with Metro North officials today in what he called a "crisis summit" where he announced state officials are reviewing procedures at the walk bridge in order to reduce its fail rate.

Some riders believe Metro North, as a whole, is slowly derailing.

"It's embarrassing, it is. They should feel sorry for themselves because this is embarrassing and they are losing riders," said Crystal Curry.

As of Monday evening, Blumenthal had not heard back from the Coast Guard about whether they would consider scaling back the use of the bridge. The governor's office said the state review of the bridge opening procedures will be available by mid-July.

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