Emergency Reconstruction of the Danbury Branch Completed Train Service Resumes
Metro-North has resumed train service on the Danbury Branch following completion of a major, emergency reconstruction of a 150-foot-long section of track that had been washed away in a flood. In all, it took 10 million pounds of stone, 300 truck loads, one truck at a time, to rebuild the right-of-way.
The torrential rain of Sunday, March 6, caused a washout that left a long section of the single track line, its ties still attached, dangling in mid-air 30 feet above the ground. The washout was discovered before the first train was scheduled to operate Monday morning by a pair of track inspectors who were dispatched in the middle of the storm to ensure the safety of the 24-mile branch.
"In just 10 days, working 16-hour days under lights, the men of our Maintenance of Way group rebuilt the berm, installed a pair of culverts, repaired and resurfaced the track and ran test trains over the new structure to ensure its safety," said Metro-North President Howard Permut. "It is an extraordinary achievement and we are grateful for their hard work and dedication to our Danbury customers. They rose to the challenge and got that track back in service in very short order."
During the suspension of train service north of the Branchville Station, substitute buses were provided in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Acting Connecticut DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker commended the team for its remarkable work in getting the Danbury Branch back in service in less than two weeks.
Metro-North forces first built a gently sloping roadway from the tracks down to the bottom of the gully for the parade of heavy-duty earth moving equipment – a grade-all, an excavator, a front-end loader, a backhoe and a bulldozer to move the stone into place.
"We had great cooperation from the Bethel Department of Public Works, which allowed us to use their roadway to access the site. They were terrific," said John Wagner, Metro-North's Director of Track and Structures, who supervised the construction.
Because the area of the washout is adjacent to a wetlands known as Simpaug Swamp, a silt fence of plastic sheeting and hay bales was built. Then came truckload after truckload of stones.
"We knew we needed big stones to build a base," Wagner said. "We called our regular supplier, Tilcon, of North Branford, CT, and told them we needed enough stone to fill a hole 150 long by 30 deep by 50 feet wide."
According to the design by the Connecticut DOT, two 36-inch pipes, on a 6-foot foundation, were installed at the bottom of the swale to relieve flooding in the future.
Metro-North crews kept building up the berm until they reached the bottom of the track. Then they began adding stone from the top, tamping it down continually to stabilize the new berm. Finally it was time to reinstall the track itself, to reestablish the curve, and make sure the rails had the proper profile and alignment.
A 30 mph speed restriction will remain in effect until the structure is fully settled. Metro-North will inspect it a couple of times a day and continue to build it up as needed until the structure stabilizes.