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100-yr-old East Alburgh Swing Span Bridge Automated by ECI
Boaters as well as the railroad will experience benefits from the project.
The East Alburgh Swing Span is a 100-year-old movable swing span bridge which was upgraded and automated by Engineers Construction, Inc. of Williston, VT. The swing span is part of the East Alburgh Trestle, a 3,800-ft-long wood railroad trestle on Lake Champlain in northwestern, Vermont. The trestle is owned by the New England Central Railroad, a division of RailAmerica, and serves as a critical link between the Canadian National Railroad and the NECR. The swing span allows commercial, recreational, coast guard, and border patrol boats to pass through the trestle on their way to and from Missisquoi Bay.
Prior to automation, the bridge tender would be dispatched to manually open the swing span with a hand crank. The swing span automation involves the controls and mechanical equipment so that the railroad dispatcher can open and close the swing span remotely from St. Albans, Vermont. The approximately 3-minute opening process requires the automated release of the miter rails, retraction of the support wedges, and rotation of the 102-ft-long steel thru-girder bridge. The closing process is just the opposite. The automation is a complex system of navigation warning lights, horns, marine vessel messages, video cameras, timers, relay switches, limit switches, actuating motors, turning motors, braking mechanisms, alignment devices, verification sensors, submarine cables, backup power with automatic transfer switches, and other components. Boaters should be aware that the bridge will swing soon after the alarms sound and that all boats should stay clear.
During the navigation season (May 15 to October 15) the swing span will remain open for navigation (aligned with the navigation channel). The swing span will close (align with tracks) for train traffic and will return to the open position after a train passes. Outside of the navigation season, the swing span will remain aligned with the tracks and will be opened on an on-needed basis for boat traffic, as indicated on the electronic LED message sign.
The swing span automation was part of a $6M public/private partnership to upgrade the 100-year old trestle. The project funding included $4,853,568 from the Federal Railroad Administration and $1,139,178 from the New England Central Railroad.