Amtrak has tapped the joint venture of O&G Industries, Inc., and Tutor Perini to replace the Connecticut River Bridge, located between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme, Conn. The $1.3-billion project aims to improve reliability and capacity for Amtrak’s intercity services, as well as commuter rail and freight operators in the Northeast Corridor.

Scheduled to begin later this year, the project will replace a 1,564-ft-long two-track electrified steel truss and bascule bridge that has been in service since 1907. Handling more than 50 train crossings a day, the bridge’s operationally inconsistent 160-ft “Scherzer-type” rolling lift span has increasingly caused cascading delays to both rail and maritime traffic.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) environmental assessment, Amtrak evaluated 21 build alternatives for the design-bid-build procurement, including minor repairs, rehabilitation and various replacement options before electing to move forward with an entirely new structure. 

The new two-track crossing, to be located immediately south of the existing bridge, will feature a modern movable span that will maintain the existing 150-ft-wide navigation channel. Other elements include new track, signals, catenary, power, communication, controls and security. With a projected service life of 150 years, the new bridge will support a maximum train operating speed of 70 mph—a 55% increase from the current limit of 45-mph—and provide an additional 6 ft of vertical clearance in the closed position for maritime traffic.

Hardesty & Hanover led preliminary and final design of the new bridge, and nearly one mile of at-grade approaches under a $65-million Amtrak contract awarded in late 2020.

AECOM will serve as construction manager for the project, which is being funded primarily by a $826.64-million FRA grant, part of a nearly $10-billion package awarded last November to Amtrak to support 12 major upgrades along the Northeast Corridor. The remaining funding will be provided by Amtrak and the State of Connecticut.