Plans for renovation of the Bridge Street bridge are moving ahead, on at least 2 fronts.
But they may be on a collision course.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation is working with the selectman’s office on a public information meeting.
Tentatively set for December 7 Set for Monday, November 23 (7:30 pm, Town Hall auditorium), it will be a forum to discuss the history of the 113-year-old bridge, its current deficiencies, and various rehabilitation options and calendars.
Meanwhile, 4 prominent Westporters asking the state DOT to designate a 1.2-mile section of Route 136 — including the bridge — as a State Scenic Highway. It begins at the Post Road/Compo Road South intersection, and runs through the western end of the bridge, at Riverside Avenue.
Petitioners include 3rd Selectman Helen Garten, former Westport Historic District Commission chair Morley Boyd, RTM member John Suggs and preservationist Wendy Crowther.
If approved, this will be the first State Scenic Highway solely in Westport. All 37.5 miles of the Merritt Parkway — from Greenwich to Stratford — carry that designation too.
The petitioners note history (site of an armed conflict between British regulars and a handful of local militiamen in 1777); the many notable 18th and 19th century buildings lining the route, and the important views of the Saugatuck River shoreline.
Both the bridge itself, and the Gault barn complex at 124 Compo Road South, are listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.
The group — along with 8 other RTM members has also requested that the RTM back the scenic highway proposal. Not all signees are from Saugatuck — where the structure (formally know as the William F. Cribari Bridge) is both a beloved icon and a major traffic thoroughfare.
They ask that their petition be discussed at the legislative body’s November 10 meeting.
“The designation will serve to both enhance and safeguard the scale, nature and character of one of Westport’s most attractive travel ways,” the agenda request says.
“The State Scenic Highway designation does not in any way impact adjoining private property,” Morley and Suggs say. “It is solely intended to preserve the character and nature of the state road — including the bridge.”
The fate of the bridge will be one of Westport’s major stories throughout the rest of this year — and next. To learn more about the State Scenic Highway program, including protections it provides, click here.