Bridge Malfunction Frustrates Rail Commuters Again

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It wasn’t the happiest of happy hours this Friday after another commuter rail migraine.

“Pretty exhausted. A little annoyed,” said Olivia Thompson, an Amtrak passenger. Her train from Boston to New York City was halted in New Haven. She was forced to take a Metro-North train to the East Norwalk station, then walk more than a mile to the South Norwalk station to get to a New York City-bound train.

The source of this frustration: the Walk Bridge in South Norwalk. It became stuck after letting a boat through around 3 p.m.

More than a dozen repair crews were dispatched to the bridge, which straddles the Norwalk River.

Service between East and South Norwalk stations was suspended, leaving Thompson and thousands of others stranded.

Brooklyn-bound Zhamoyni McMillan lugged multiple suitcases from Massachusetts around all afternoon. He was also on an Amtrak train to New York City.

“The bridge closed down, and we had to reroute, and I was delayed by three hours, which is really troubling to me because I was supposed to meet my mother at 6,” he said, adding that his mother also had to change her plans. Instead of picking up her son at Penn Station, she needed to meet him at Grand Central Station.

Metro-North provided buses between stations, though Margarita Garcia says that got hairy.

“Then we had to walk, and then we had to take the bus. It was a struggle to get the bus because people (were) fighting. You know, trying to fight over seats and, you know, it’s a lot,” Garcia said.

Many gave up on that plan and like Thompson, walked the more than 1-mile stretch across the river to the next train stop.

“There was really nobody there to tell us where to go or what to do. It just seemed like everyone was really confused,” said Thompson.

The mess wasn’t just a problem for train travelers. Loved ones sat in traffic to pick up commuters.

“It’s just a long drive down here. Between the train and the lights being out, it’s been at least an hour drive to come from Bridgeport,” said Christina Garcia.

Trains finally got back on track after more than three hours. Tweets from Metro-North said the bridge was “closed” around 3 p.m., and New Haven Line train service was restored around 6:40 p.m.

Gov. Dannel Malloy is calling for a “crisis summit” to fix the bridge. It became stuck and caused massive delays eight days ago as well. Malloy calls the double bridge failure “outrageous.”

In the meantime, though Friday’s riders will never get their time back, they appreciate that they weren’t stuck overnight.

“It’s better than getting home tomorrow. So, it’s OK, I guess,” said Thompson.

 

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