Connecticut to Receive Emergency Relief for Bridge Fire

May 7, 2024
Funds will offset cost of rebuilding and get heavy traffic back on track

Interstate 95 reopened in both directions Sunday in Norwalk, Conn., days after a tanker truck caught fire and badly damaged the Fairfield Avenue bridge.

The northbound lanes reopened Saturday, and Gov. Ned Lamont announced the highway would fully reopen around 10 a.m. Sunday. Officials previously said they hoped to have everything open by the Monday commute.

"It is truly amazing that in less than 80 hours from that fiery crash Thursday that shut down traffic in both directions, the highway again is fully open," said Lamont in a statement.

"It takes a village, and from the response from local and state police and fire departments to the environmental cleanup by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the demolition and rebuilding by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) and contractors, everyone did their part," said Lamont. "I am impressed by these efforts and thankful for the dedication, skill, and labor of everyone who has been involved."

Early morning Thursday, authorities said a car swerved in front of a truck that was pulling a flatbed trailer near the Fairfield Avenue overpass just past exit 15 south. The truck then swerved to avoid the car and hit the back of a fuel tanker, which burst into flames under the overpass and spilled thousands of gallons of gasoline onto the highway.

Firefighters and hazmat crews responded to contain the flames and the spill, and officials later said the air and water quality were not impacted in the area.

The bridge, however, was badly damaged and had to be demolished. CTDOT crews tore down the bridge Friday before repairs could begin on the roadway Saturday.

I-95 was shut down in both directions Thursday and Friday, causing a major traffic headache for commuters and residual delays on the Merritt Parkway, I-84 and I-87.

Fairfield Avenue is expected to remain closed for at least a year while the overpass is replaced.

Lamont declared a state of emergency after the crash, saying the impacted stretch of highway typically serves 160,000 vehicles per day.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has since announced the immediate availability of $3 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief (ER) funds for CTDOT to offset costs to reconstruct the bridge.

“I-95 is a critical highway—for both the people of Connecticut and our nation’s transportation network—and the Biden-Harris Administration focused immediately on helping Governor Lamont quickly restore travel,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in a statement. “These emergency funds helped Connecticut DOT safely repair and reopen the road in less than 80 hours and can now help with costs associated with rebuilding the bridge."

“The damage to I-95 in Norwalk disrupted the daily lives, travel, and business for local residents as well as the surrounding regions that rely on this vital route,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt, in a statement. “As one of the country’s busiest highways, the Federal Highway Administration worked swiftly to provide funding to CTDOT to repair and reopen the Interstate.”

FHWA’s Emergency Relief program provides funding to States, territories, Tribes, and Federal Land Management Agencies for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. These “quick release” Emergency Relief funds are an initial installment of funds toward restoring this essential transportation link. Additional funds needed to repair damages to Interstate-95 and the Fairfield Avenue bridge will be supported by the Emergency Relief program through subsequent nationwide funding allocations.

The FHWA Emergency Relief program complements Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs and provisions by encouraging agencies to identify and implement measures to incorporate resilience in the design, restoration and repair of damaged infrastructure, to better withstand future damage from climate change and future weather events.


Source: CBS News, U.S. Department of Transportation


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