NEW YORK — Discussions between Amtrak, East Lyme Selectman Paul Formica, the U.S. Coast Guard and local boaters and marine businesses have resulted in an agreement that officials say balances the use of the Niantic River channel by the marine community and the need to keep the bridge replacement project moving forward and on schedule.
The agreement, officially announced by the U.S. Coast Guard, permits channel closures on Monday and Tuesday nights from 10 p.m. to 4:30 a.m., through October 15, the traditional end of the summer boating season. During the nighttime closures, Amtrak will be able to perform a number of activities, including construction of the two in-river piers.
“The channel closure schedule signifies the continued cooperation and ongoing commitment by Amtrak to have an open communication process as part of this vital and necessary project,” said Jim Richter, Deputy Chief Engineer, Structures, Amtrak. “We appreciate the efforts of Selectman Formica in helping reach an agreement that all parties can support.”
“This schedule allows our fishing and recreational boating community necessary access to the channel while at the same time moving this very important project forward,” said East Lyme First Selectman, Paul Formica. I appreciate Amtrak and the Coast Guard soliciting input from both the boating community and the Town in determining these closures.”
The new bridge will improve reliability, reduce the chance for operational failure and help minimize train and river traffic delays. The project is scheduled for completion in 2013.
The bridge currently serves up to 38 Amtrak passenger trains and two freight trains every day and typically opens for marine traffic about 4,000 times each year.