Shaw's Cove bridge expected to be fully fixed by Monday, after delay in opening for marine traffic

An Amtrak crew checks on a problem with the Shaw's Cove railroad bridge in New London on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
An Amtrak crew checks on a problem with the Shaw's Cove railroad bridge in New London on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

New London — The recent cold spell created issues for the Shaw's Cove railroad bridge that have kept some boaters from leaving the cove for almost two weeks, but Amtrak said the bridge is expected to be fully operational on Monday.

The cold weather caused the lubricants that grease the gears on the railroad bridge to freeze up, preventing the bridge from opening and closing for marine traffic since Dec. 29, according to Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams.

The Shaw's Cove bridge was stuck open on the night of Dec. 28, due to the cold weather, creating 3-hour delays that affected five trains.

But Amtrak was able to open the bridge early Thursday morning to allow boats to get through. Amtrak notified the Coast Guard and expects to be back to normal operations as of Monday, Abrams said.

Over the winter months, the bridge typically opens on signal for vessels during the day on weekdays and also opens on nights and weekends, if notice is given at least eight hours beforehand, according to the state Department of Transportation's website.

Scott Eshenfelder, the owner and operator of the fishing boat Hannah Story, goes fishing for monk fish in the winter: "This is a good time of year for us," he said.

But with the bridge closed since Dec. 29, his boat was stuck inside the cove, he said on Wednesday. With the cold weather and the bridge issue, he estimates he missed four fishing trips.

During previous winters, there have been days here and there that the bridge was stuck shut, but never for this long, said his wife, Pam Eshenfelder, who owns Shaw’s Cove Packing, which delivers fish all the way to New Bedford, Mass. She said her husband's fishing boat was able to leave the cove once Amtrak opened the bridge early Thursday.

Atlantic Marine Construction's barge was stuck inside the cove for more than a week, Bill Magowan, co-owner of the Westerly, R.I., company, said by email. Atlantic Marine had installed a new wave attenuator for Thamesport Marina and was getting ready to push the barge out of New London but ducked inside the harbor due to the impending snowstorm, he said. Once the storm passed, the company tried to get back to work but faced the bridge issue.

Early Thursday morning, Atlantic Marine was able to move its equipment through the bridge, he said.

"We are happy to be out," he said.


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