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Amtrak Old Saybrook – Old Lyme Bridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Amtrak Old Saybrook – Old Lyme Bridge
Amtrak bridge at Old Saybrook - open.jpg
A view of the bridge in the open position on August 5, 2007.
Coordinates41°18′39″N 72°20′57″W / 41.3108°N 72.3492°W / 41.3108; -72.3492
CarriesNortheast Corridor
CrossesConnecticut River
LocaleOld Saybrook, Connecticut to Old Lyme, Connecticut
DesignTruss bridge with a bascule span
Total length1,659.6 feet (505.8 m)[1]
Longest span161 feet (49 m)[1]
No. of spans9 fixed + 1 bascule[1]
Clearance below18 feet (5.5 m) (closed)
68 feet (21 m) (open)[2]
DesignerScherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company, Chicago[1]
Construction end1907
Daily traffic56 daily trains:[2]
38 Amtrak intercity trains
12 Shore Line East commuter trains
6 P&W freight trains

The Amtrak Old Saybrook – Old Lyme Bridge is the last crossing of the Connecticut River before it reaches Long Island Sound. It is a Truss bridge with a bascule span, allowing boat traffic to go through. Its tracks are owned by Amtrak and used by Northeast Regional, Acela Express, Shore Line East trains traversing the Northeast Corridor. It can be seen from the Raymond E. Baldwin Bridge (Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1), as well as from various points on Route 154.

Construction and operational history

1908 postcard of the bridge
1908 postcard of the bridge

Also known as the Connecticut River Railroad Bridge and Connecticut River Bridge, it was built in 1907 by the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company of Chicago, for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. It replaced an earlier bridge, built in 1870.[3] It is similar in design to the Housatonic River Railroad Bridge further south, though shorter in overall length. It also lacks the latter bridge's parallel sets of spans, although the abutments and piers were designed to carry such extra spans (for four total tracks) which were never installed at this location.

The bridge underwent a structural rehabilitation in 1976, and had mechanical and electrical rehabilitation in 1981 and 1997. In 2000 the bridge experienced a major electrical failure which rendered the drawspan stuck in the open position (blocking railroad traffic).[1] The bridge became stuck in the closed position twice in 2001.[4] A 2006 inspection found the bridge to be structurally deficient and determined that periodic rehabilitation work was no longer sufficient to keep the century-old bridge functional.[2]

Historic status designation

1977 aerial view of the bridge, showing the wide piers designed to accommodate a never-built second span

The bridge was determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, but it was not finally listed due to owner objection, with decision noted in National Register reference number #87002125.[5]

It is one of eight moveable bridges on the Amtrak route through Connecticut surveyed in one multiple property study in 1986.[6] The eight bridges from west to east are: Mianus River Railroad Bridge at Cos Cob, built in 1904; Norwalk River Railroad Bridge at Norwalk, 1896; Saugatuck River Railroad Bridge at Westport, 1905; Pequonnock River Railroad Bridge at Bridgeport, 1902; Housatonic River Railroad Bridge, at Devon, 1905; this Connecticut River Railroad Bridge, Old Saybrook-Old Lyme, 1907; Niantic River Bridge, East Lyme-Waterford, 1907; and Thames River Bridge, Groton, built in 1919.


The structurally deficient bridge is planned for replacement. An Environmental Assessment released in May 2014 identified two preferred alternatives: a bascule bridge similar in size to the existing span, or a vertical lift bridge with possibly increased clearances. Either option would be built on a parallel alignment just south of the existing bridge. Fully high-level designs without movable sections were eliminated from consideration due to the massive approaches that would have to be built, which would have major impacts on nearby wetlands and increase construction and land acquisition costs.[2] Construction staging plans were released in April 2020. Those plans call for a replacement bascule bridge 52 feet (16 m) south of the existing span, with clearance in the closed position increased from 18 feet (5.5 m) to 24 feet (7.3 m).[7] Amtrak and ConnDOT were awarded $65.2 million in federal funds for the replacement in October 2020.[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e O'Neill, Jr., Paul X.; Ostrovsky, Alex (October 22, 2002). "Failure and Quick Recovery of Movable Bridge on the Acela Line" (PDF).
  2. ^ a b c d "Connecticut River Bridge Replacement Project: Environmental Assessment & Section 4(f) Evaluation". Federal Railroad Administration. May 28, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  3. ^ Karr, Ronald Dale (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Branch Line Press. p. 95. ISBN 0942147022.
  4. ^ Overton, Penelope (August 24, 2001). "Aging Bridge Causes Delays". Hartford Courant.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  6. ^ Bruce Clouette, Matthew Roth and John Herzan (February 4, 1986). "Movable Railroad Bridges on the NE Corridor in Connecticut TR". National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form.
  7. ^ Hewitt, Cate (May 14, 2020). "$400 Million Connecticut River Railroad Bridge Replacement Takes a Step Forward, Design Details Announced". Connecticut Examiner.
  8. ^ "USDOT awards rail-repair grants for projects in Connecticut, NJ, California". Progressive Railroading. October 28, 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 5 August 2021, at 22:42
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