Niantic River Bridge

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Niantic River Railroad Bridge
Old and new Niantic River bridges, August 2012.JPG
The 2012 replacement bridge towers over the 1907 bridge
Coordinates 41°19′22″N 72°10′37″W / 41.3227°N 72.1769°W / 41.3227; -72.1769Coordinates: 41°19′22″N 72°10′37″W / 41.3227°N 72.1769°W / 41.3227; -72.1769
Carries 2 tracks of Northeast Corridor
Crosses Niantic River (Nav MP 0.0)
Locale East Lyme and Waterford, Connecticut
Official name Niantic River Bascule Bridge CT 116.74
Maintained by Amtrak
Total length 373 feet (114 m) (movable span 140 feet (43 m))
Clearance below 16 feet (4.9 m) when closed
Opened 2012 (new span)
1907 (original)
Closed 2012 (original)
Daily traffic 54 trains (38 Amtrak, 14 commuter, 2 freight) (2013)[1]
Niantic River RR Bridge is located in Connecticut
Niantic River RR Bridge
Niantic River RR Bridge

Niantic River Bridge, also known as Amtrak Bascule Bridge No. 116.74, is a railroad bridge carrying Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line across the Niantic River between East Lyme and Waterford, Connecticut. It is a drawbridge with a bascule-type draw span. A new bridge was constructed in 2012 to replace the former span built in 1907. It opened on September 8, 2012.[2] Related construction work finished in June 2013.[1]


1907 bridge[edit]

1907 bridge in 2006

The main bridge structure, a 68-foot (21 m) Scherzer through-girder bascule design, was built by the King Bridge Company in 1907 for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.[3] It was one of eight moveable bridges on the Amtrak route through Connecticut surveyed in one multiple property study in 1986.[3] 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; Connecticut River Railroad Bridge, Old Saybrook-Old Lyme, 1907; this, the Niantic River Bridge, East Lyme-Waterford, 1907; and the Thames River Bridge, Groton, built in 1919.

The bridge was deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, but was not listed due to owner objection, with decision reference number 87002124.[4]

New bridge under construction in August 2012

The 1907 bridge provided just 11.5 feet (3.5 m) of vertical clearance when closed, constraining most commercial boats in Niantic Harbor to the bridge schedule. Its horizontal clearance when open was 45 feet (14 m), usually limiting passage to one direction at a time.[1] These restrictions made the bridge unpopular with boat owners, which contributed to a 2003 agreement between Amtrak and the Coast Guard which limited the number of daily trains over the bridge. The agreement was later problematic for Amtrak and the state, as it prevented full expansion of Shore Line East service to New London.[5] Due to these clearance issues, as well as increased reliability problems, Amtrak began planning for a replacement for the century-old bridge.

Current bridge[edit]

In 2010, construction began on a new fixed-trunnion bascule bridge to replace the 1907 span, in an ARRA-funded project.[6] Located 58 feet (18 m) south of the old bridge, on the approximate alignment of the pre-1907 swing span, the new structure provides 100 feet (30 m) of horizontal clearance, and 16 feet (4.9 m) of closed vertical clearance at mean high water.[7] As part of the project, Amtrak also replenished the beachfront and replaced the Niantic Bay Boardwalk, which had been damaged in storms several years before.[1]

The new Niantic River Bridge was opened to rail traffic on September 8, 2012.[2] Removal of the old bridge, which was crossed by a train for the final time on September 7,[2] began at the wane of the summer boating season in September, while restoration of the beach, pedestrian pathways and boardwalks in the affected area continued until May 2013.[8] Amtrak announced the completion of the project in June 2013.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Amtrak Completes Niantic River Bridge Replacement Project" (PDF). Amtrak. June 24, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "New drawbridge in service". Railfan & Railroad. Carstens Publications. November 2012. p. 25. 
  3. ^ a b Bruce Clouette, Matthew Roth and John Herzan (February 4, 1986). "Movable Railroad Bridges on the NE Corridor in Connecticut TR" (PDF). National Park Service. 
  4. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  5. ^ "Expanding Rail Service" (PDF). Connecticut Department of Transportation. January 1, 2007. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  6. ^ Amy Renczkowski (March 18, 2010). "Preliminary work begins on Niantic River Bridge". The Day. 
  7. ^ "Niantic Bay Boardwalk Reconstruction Progress, Vol. 2, No. 1" (PDF). News Updates. East Lyme Public Trust Foundation, Inc. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Niantic River Bridge Replacement Project: Weekly Project/Channel Navigation Updates" (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 

External links[edit]