There are two 115kv transmission lines currently running along the top of the Walk Bridge. These need to be relocated because regulations no longer permit attachments to railroad bridges.
Eversource, the owners of these transmission lines, first proposed to the City of Norwalk that they relocate the lines aboveground along the harbor front on a series of aboveground monopoles. These are substantially more visible than your typical aboveground electric pole. The aboveground route would have been the least expensive option.
The City of Norwalk has argued that they do not wish to have the lines run aboveground for aesthetic reasons. Over the course of two years, without any consultation with the public, Eversource and the City of Norwalk’s engineers negotiated and designed an entirely new concept to place the transmission lines under the harbor using a method called horizontal directional drilling. The path will go under the newly constructed visitor’s docks, and portions of Veterans Memorial Park. However, the new path is carefully laid out to maximize the ability to develop two privately owned properties on Water Street. These properties, owned by notable developers, are being given deference at the expense of three sets of public commons–the park, the boat docks and the shellfish beds.
In all versions of this project, Eversource has advised the City and the State that it attends to Petition for a Declaratory Ruling that no Certificate of Environmental Compatibility & Public Need is required from the Connecticut Siting Council. This project was not evaluated for environmental impacts during the Walk Bridge Environmental Assessment/Section 4(f) Evaluation/Environment Impact Evaluation, because CT State law treats this type of project as a relocation of an existing facility and a project of “independent utility” from that of the Walk Bridge.
Both the Norwalk Harbor Management Commission and the Norwalk Shellfish Commission have expressed concerns about the undergrounding of these lines, after consulting with a regional expert on horizontal directional drilling.