[UPDATE] Bridge Street Bridge Project Drives Forward

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.

The historic and controversial Bridge Street (William F. Cribari) Bridge.

The historic and controversial Bridge Street (William F. Cribari) Bridge. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

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.

The petitioners met yesterday at the Bridge Street Bridge. From Left: Morley Boyd, Helen Garten, John Suggs, Wendy Crowther. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

The petitioners met yesterday at the Bridge Street Bridge. From Left: Morley Boyd, Helen Garten, John Suggs, Wendy Crowther. (Photo/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.

Many old homes line South Compo Road and Bridge Street. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

Many old homes line South Compo Road and Bridge Street. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

“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.”

A historic plaque stands at the corner of the Post Road and South Compo -- the start of the proposed 1.2-mile Scenic Highway route. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

The Saugatuck River meets Bridge Street, near the western end of the proposed Scenic Highway. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

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.

A historic plaque stands at the Post Road/South Compo intersection -- the start of the proposed 1.2-mile Scenic Highway. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

A historic plaque stands at the Post Road/South Compo intersection — the start of the proposed 1.2-mile Scenic Highway. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

42 responses to “[UPDATE] Bridge Street Bridge Project Drives Forward

  1. “Such development must not detract from the scenic or natural character or visual qualities of the highway area. ” All those mcmansions along the way- does this still apply?

  2. Mike Stuttman

    What a great opportunity for all the P&Z candidates to go on record with their position regarding the future of the bridge. It appears there is a strong, public constituency in favor of preservation, as well as a strong, somewhat under-the-table constituency for building a new bridge.

    As a voter, I think it would be very helpful to know where each P&Z candidate stands on an issue that impacts development, historic preservation and quality of life in the town of Westport.

    • Mike
      I fully support saving the Bridge St (Crowbar’s) Bridge, for its historic and aesthetic value and more. I lived in the Saugatuck area last time the state worked on the Bridge and when the replacement temporary bridge went in the trucks from 95 had a clear shot to their Saugatuck shortcut when traffic backed up. Now the proposed State project wants to introduce an uncovered bridge with Bridge St expanding to 4 lanes between Imperial and the bridge and a rotary on the Saugatuck side. Having lived on Bridge Street I know this would truly be the NIGHTMARE ON BRIDGE STREET.
      Understand that the underlying bridge structure is not a safety issue, the steel over structure needs repair from non maintenance by the State.
      I strongly support the Save the William F. Cribari Bridge effort for both historic and traffic mediation reasons.

  3. I wish there were some standard for what constitutes a “landmark” – because the Bridge Street Bridge certainly would not qualify for any reason other than being old! It’s a garden variety erector-set-style steel bridge, not the Pont Alexandre III! We are talking about our local version of the Tappan Zee!

    Keep in mind that the entire region needs to use it to get to the railroad and i95 — not just the local NIMBYs. It is both unsafe (Have you ever tried to ride your bicycle over it when a truck is going by?) and traffic-clogging, particularly all the times it needs to be shut down for inspections and repairs due to its structural insufficiency.

    And, what about all those century-old railroad bridges that are ruining the reliability of Metro North and Amtrak? Are we going to mount objections when our slow-moving DOT finally comes through and starts replacing them?

    • There is a standard. It’s called the National Historic Register. I guess one man’s erector set could be everybody else’s National Historic Structure the William F Cribari Bridge. Btw have you price erector sets lately?

  4. I also think it’s an astounding lie to claim this bridge as part of a “State Scenic Highway” due to its proximity to the British landing on Compo Beach. Obviously the bridge did not exist in 1777, or would the British troops have needed to cross the Saugatuck River here to get up to Danbury. So the NIMBYs are inventing history, not just the definition of a landmark!

    • Peter, I certainly appreciate your passion. It’s possible you may not be thoroughly familiar with the enabling legislation that underpins the State Scenic Highway designation. If you click on the link above you’ll notice that it does not necessarily prevent the loss or alteration of historic resources – such as the bridge in question. What the designation does do is give us Westporters a seat at the table, via public hearings, to weigh in on proposed changes the DOT may be considering. While the intent of the designation is to mitigate where possible any adverse impacts to natural and cultural resources within the state right of way, there is plenty of room to allow for changes and improvements anywhere along the 1.2 mile proposed Scenic Highway. As for the matter of the British raid on Danbury, I can assure you that no one is suggesting that the bridge existed in the spring of 1777. The reason that we petitioners made mention of the battle site at the intersection of Compo Road South and the Post Road (where the proposed Scenic Highway begins) is because (a) that is one of the requirements of the application (b) the portion of Compo Road South that is present day Route 136 also includes a portion of the path that Tryon’s men took and (c) several extant houses along said route are associated with that historic event. This, of course, speaks to the interpretive value of the segment of Route 136 that we feel deserves more attention from the DOT that it presently receives. Whatever merit one attaches to the scenic viewsheds and layers of history that present themselves along the way to the revitalized Village of Saugatuck, I would expect most Westport residents would prefer to have more rather than less say over what an otherwise unaccountable state agency might decide to do with same in the future.

  5. don l bergmann

    The preservation of the Bridge Street bridge is high on my priorities of matters I will be actively supporting. Scenic highway designations are also usually highly desirable. As is so often the case, individuals such as Helen Garten, Wendy Crowther and Morley Boyd have taken the initiative for the highway designation. This group also includes RTM Representative John Suggs. I hope other elected officials, whether on the RTM or in other positions, consider publicly supporting both the preservation of the bridge and this scenic highway designation.
    Don Bergmann

  6. Michael Brennecke

    I have been using the Bridge Street bridge for my entire life. Ridden my bike across it as a kid, commuted daily to the train station over it for 28 years in rush hour, ridden my motorcycle over the funky grates for 42 years.( It is also immortalized in the 1956 Gregory Peck movie “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit”.)
    Sure, it maybe slows people down a little, so what? But take a look around at the interminable highway projects around here, I-95 comes to mind, how long do you think it would take them to replace it with a shiny new hideous concrete slab, anyway? Five years? If we were lucky. And we’d be diverted to the Post road bridge the whole time it was being worked on. That would be nothing less than a nightmare. And for what in the end, another bit of Penn Station “progress” that speeds crossing the bridge by not one second?
    The real problem is we have triple the traffic in this town then we did in the past while the population of Westport has actually fallen from a peak of 30,000 to 26,000 now. Building a new bridge is not going to solve that problem in any way.
    Preserving one of the few identifying landmarks of this area is worth doing, however, and you never get a second chance with preservation.

  7. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder-but safety saves everyone’s lives. No matter what is done, what is decided, please make sure we protect us all.

  8. It is important to preserve the Cribari Bridge across the Saugatuck River in its present form as well as in its present scale. First of all, it is historic. It is one of the last, if not the last, working model of its kind in Connecticut. It has been part of the Saugatuck neighborhood for a great many years. It is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

    It deserves to be preserved.

    Second of all, adding any lane(s) to the roadbed of the bridge would be likely to create an additional demand to broaden both Bridge Street, with its small historic houses, and Riverside Avenue where it runs through the newly-built Saugatuck Center where people live, work, shop, and dine. Such a demand would be likely because the bridge spans the river along an alternative route taken to and from I-95 during (frequent) times of traffic “overflow.” Do our town officials and representatives want to encourage even more traffic than we already get? Perhaps bigger trucks? Any expansion of Bridge Street or Riverside Avenue for that matter should be discouraged in every way on every front at every hint of such potential. That is because any such expansion would negatively impact the neighborhoods on both sides of the river, and that impact would spread out to include other streets.

    Incidentally, any potential broadening of the bridge would also create bottlenecks where the broadened roads would inevitably narrow.

    Hopefully all town officials and town bodies will recognize the reasons to and the importance of preserving the Bridge, taking all measures to protect the town from even more traffic than it endures, and guarding its residential and historic neighborhoods against any threat to or degradation of their quality or character.

  9. Wishing them the best of luck. They might want to start by removing the holiday lights that unfortunately hang there like an eye sore all year long. It’ll show that we care enough about this structure to not let it look like that outside of the holiday season.

  10. Mary Schmerker, Staples 1958

    Save The Bridge. Our history is important. History teaches where we came from. History reveals our roots. Our history shines a light on humility, courage and wisdom. History gives us hope for the future. I am always amazed when I read about the talent and intellect of the people who were drawn to live in Westport and am equally blown away by the intellect and talent of the people who were and are being educated in Westport. Westport claims a unique place in the history of our country.
    While it has been many years since I lived in Westport Exit #17 off I 95 still brings a smile to my face and a sigh of relief as breathe deeply and cross “The Bridge” Besides, I think my husband married me 50 years ago just so he could drive across the Bridge to visit my family. We were both working in New York City when we met. On his first visit out to Westport to meet my family “The Bridge” opened to let boats through and he was hooked. Current residents have logged on with valid concerns about traffic and historic preservation. The Bridge deserves to be saved. Westport’s heritage is unique and we need to remember …………..Where we came from and look to where we want to go.

  11. Some of my favorite people in Town support preservation of the bridge, but it is one seriously ugly piece of work. Additionally, it seems to be completely deficient as a bridge. Maybe it is the last one of its type in the State because every other municipality was fed up?

    I’m guessing that part of the support for the bridge is historical, but that other is to allow the bridge to remain a structure that, rather than enabling traffic to easily flow up Greens Farms Road, discourages traffic from flowing that way – which may be a perfectly reasonable goal (given that the area is residential until it hits Post Road).

    It seems to me that Town, collectively, needs to establish a benchmark for the capacity that we want the bridge to handle. (Something that likely goes hand-in-hand with determining appropriate traffic capacity for Greens Farms Road.) Once that is established, we should determine whether the most cost effective approach is to upgrade the current bridge or replace it with a new one.

    I can’t imagine that anything I have just said here is especially outlandish. This is an infrastructure issue as much or more than it is any kind of historic preservation issue.

    • I don’t think anything you said is especially outlandish, however I do wish the four petitioners the best of luck as they do battle with the Evil Empire.

      I believe there are jurisdictional issues which make your suggestions, while reasonable, difficult to implement. I do not think the Town “owns” the road or the bridge. Moreover, I am not sure the interests of the Town and the DOT are aligned.

      You make a most relevant point when you write about managing traffic flow. At a recent RTM meeting the point was made that the current bridge moderates traffic flow. Thus, when 95 becomes a parking lot, as it does on a regular basis, the physical characteristics of the bridge limit the type of traffic that can flow through Saugatuck.

      An additional point made at the same RTM meeting dealt with the specter of tolls. Evidently the regime in Hartford may be foolish enough to look favorably on the recommendation to reinstate tolls on the State’s highways. Irrespective of the nature of the process for collecting the tolls, on the margin, the tolls will provide an economic incentive to use local roads rather than the roads where tolls are present. The role the current bridge plays in moderating traffic would become more important as drivers seek to avoid tolls (a tax).

    • Nothing outlandish here… But every DOT plan since the sixties included a no weight limit, no height limit, high rise bridge with four lane roads that would have carried anything that could cruise I-95 and would have bifurcated both residential and commercial Saugatuck. And once a juggernaut plan gets going it doesn’t easily stop. The petitioners have developed a prudent plan which promises long term benefits to Westport.

  12. Agree with Don Bergman and Judy Starr’s comments. I can only imagine that acquiring State Scenic Highway Designation for this beautiful roadway and unique bridge would have a positive impact on property values, providing ancillary economic benefit for homeowners–and all of Westport. My family’s first glimpse of Westport was through the windows of our real estate agent’s car, along this very pathway. She was introducing us to Westport at its best–a unique part of our town, well worth preserving. Beautiful tree-lined roadway, handsome homes, a wonderful river–and a rare bridge which deserves to be cared for and maintained. Hope others will take time to speak up and join in supporting the thoughtful, intelligent group of hard-working residents who are shaping this endeavor.

  13. Good idea to save the bridge but “fix the kink”. The roadway takes a 30 degree turn right at the east bound exit of the bridge. Ask anyone who has towed a boat and trailer over the bridge.

  14. A Statement from Save Westport Now About the Bridge:

    The old metal bridge in Saugatuck is perhaps one of Westport’s most iconic and charming images. In winter, its holiday lights cheer commuters as they hurry to and from the RR station. In summer, it affords a dazzling view of the river and the rowers and paddleboarders below.

    Save Westport Now believes that a larger bridge will actually encourage commercial and other traffic through the already congested Saugatuck district—especially when I-95 backs up. In fact, the dimensions of the current bridge have been instrumental in protecting the fragile infrastructure of Saugatuck’s old town roads and Westport’s small town character. Moreover, we believe that a bigger—and taller—bridge will be unsightly and detrimental to Westport’s aesthetic and image. SWN believes that this iconic structure should be repaired and restored so that it can continue to span both the river and centuries, serving as a bridge and monument to Westport’s history.

    Save Westport Now applauds our Selectmen for taking a proactive role in this matter and publically stating that the bridge should be retained. And we would like to thank our RTM members for unanimously voting to designate the bridge as historic. If you agree, then please contact us (info@savewestportnow.org) or write to your state and local representatives to let them know that you too care about preserving Westport’s character.

    Thank you.
    Valerie Seiling Jacobs,
    Co-Chairman, Save Westport Now

  15. When I was just a day-tripper to Westport before I moved here, that bridge with it’s Christmas lights— in old-school colored lights, no less!— was one of the many endearing treats that captured my heart. All of the history that is nestled into so many parts of Westport makes everything you learn about in elementary school about The Revolutionary war, etc, so REAL! I would love to see that stretch of road made as iconic as The Oregon Trail!

  16. When I was a teenager, we would drop our Herreschoff 15 sail boat in the Saugatuck River above the bridge in the spring and wait for it to swing open to let us through. It was thrilling! Allowing water traffic access above and below the bridge is an important part of saving this iconic structure. Future generations as well as the people who live up river will be happy we did.

  17. Be safe, Westporters and the visitors, including me, who love the town. That being said, the bridge has a piece of my heart – I grew up on Bridge Street and crossed it many times a day and can still hear the sound of our station wagon crossing it, and the sound my bike on the wooden sidewalk on the side of the bridge. The very sight of the bridge still makes me feel like home. Hard to explain that feeling after all of these years but most importantly, hope everyone is safe.

  18. Carol Buffinton

    I also support the scenic highway designation on Rte 136 from the Post Road to the west side of the bridge.

  19. So if it’s not new and shiny we should tear it down? Protecting the Cribrari Bridge provides traffic calming. This will prevent the potential of a multi-lane bridge which will exacerbate our traffic woes. Beautiful? Surely that is not the only standard applied for designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Aesthetics are complex. Let’s repair and retain an important part of the history and gritty nature of what’s left in Saugatuck. Support those in our community who have the moxie to stand up and fight for an iconic place we often take for granted.

  20. Speaking of historic bridges, any word on when we’ll see progress on North Avenue? Sorry for the off-topic response, but it’s been on the minds of parents on my end of town now that winter is quickly approaching.

  21. Mary Schmerker, Staples 1958

    I really felt the need to comment again. I am a native Westporter who was transplanted years ago to the Gulf Coast. Our area still has some wide open spaces to be developed. In the late 1970’s, when growth began to take off here, several historic landmarks, houses and places were lost to unrestrained development. Fortunately the “Town Fathers” quickly realized that developers with an interest only in lining their pockets needed to be restrained and regulations were enacted and a Historical Society was formed.
    I am pleased to see people registering their opinions and hope that they will be heard.
    On a personal note, I am married to the original toll “avoider” The very same one who was so taken with the Bridge on his first visit to Westport. ( I gave him the quarters, the toll at the time, and promised to show him how to avoid them on our way back into the city that long ago weekend.) I do hope that Connecticut will not reinstate tolls. Even with electronic scanning they tend to be hazardous.

  22. Adding my voice to the chorus of those strongly supporting the preservation of the bridge, and the designation of the stretch of road it spans as a State Scenic Highway. It’s such an iconic landmark, one that I’ve been crossing for more than 50 years, and something special that reminds me daily that I’m home. As well, and maybe more important, the bridge is the last of its kind in CT and is to Westport and Connecticut like covered bridges are to Vermont. Preserve and protect!

  23. If the issue is traffic through the area, let’s address traffic (and I DON’T mean by necessarily increasing capacity) and make decisions about that – not come up with an historic end-around.

    If we’re worried about the State wanting a busier road (or that some Westport officials are lobbying for that) let’s have the public discussion of that rather than debating historic status, if that has little or nothing to do with the underlying issue. Let’s ask local officials to make their case to the people who live here.

    But, extending the preservation logic, should the moving railroad bridges which carry Amtrak and Metro North Passengers, but which are on the National Register of Historic Places, NOT be upgraded, despite a level of commuter rail use that would have never been anticipated at the time that they were built?

    I’m not simply in favor of preserving buildings, but buildings aren’t generally part of the infrastructure – so there are different dynamics in place. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of Westporters (as opposed to the comparatively small number who follow these kinds of local issues and participate on online forums) would both like a working bridge and would be puzzled at the proposed road designation. As someone else said, the bridge wasn’t here during the war, so we can put up a marker (if there isn’t one already) to mark the spot.

  24. We think the Saugatuck Bridge must be preserved thru whatever means possible. This bridge represents an integral part of our town character. -Over the course of the past 2 months, my fellow P&Z commissioners, Chip Stephens, Jack Whittle and Al Gratrix, and I have been participating in the hearings and having conversations with various citizen groups who are very concerned about the State trying to take away our bridge. If the bridge were made larger, it would most certainly be a very attractive by-pass for I95. As it is now, the size and configuration of the bridge does act as a traffic calming structure. A larger bridge that would allow tractor trailers from I 95 to pass, is not what we want for Saugatuck. The traffic in Saugatuck would be made considerably worse if the bridge were made larger.

    The structure should be made safe, but not expanded.

    The traffic issue in Saugatuck must be addressed. Some of the solutions could be as simple as extended hours for the traffic policeman at the intersection.

    One of the citizen groups we met with had some very interesting ideas about countering the Conn Dot efforts. Other private citizens have contacted us offering information to assist the first Selectman in his efforts. The four of us are thrilled that you’ve all trusted us to share your thoughts. We are in your corner and work tirelessly for you. We are your 24/7 P&Z Team.

    We ask that you honor us by voting for all 4 on either the Republican or Save Westport Now line.

    Jack Whittle
    Al Gratrix
    Chip Stephens
    Cathy Walsh

  25. Chris,
    Public discussion is well and good, but there are no guarantees as to the results. A historic structure and an old residential neighborhood are at a real potential for risk. And the town, even beyond that one area, is at risk for major additional traffic.

    The bridge is historic. It dates back to 1884. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. If safety is a consideration, please consider the addition of a lot of traffic, both cars and trucks, to the town’s roads. This is not something by which motorists, bicyclists, runners or pedestrians would be made more safe, but rather, to the contrary.

    Consider also, please, that by preserving the structure and scale of this historic bridge, and the scale of Bridge Street, a National Registered landmark is preserved and the integrity of a historic neighborhood is protected. This is no “end run” — it is an effort to save something historic, and if it has good effects beyond that, well, why should the town hesitate to accept them?


  26. martha hauhuth

    As I say at every opportunity, Westport must do everything possible to save our iconic Bridge Street Bridge. Thanks to Morley, Helen. John and Wendy for the wonderful idea about declaring Compo Road a State Scenic Highway. Every school child in Westport knows about the British soldiers marching up that road on their way to Danbury and the battle with our Compo Minuteman on their way back to their ships. Let’s win this battle for our history.

    Marty Hauhuth

  27. Martha Constable

    I think Mr. Boyd makes an excellent point in explaining that a Scenic Highway designation assures that Westporters will be able to have a say about the design for improvements and/or repairs to the bridge, allowing for preservation of character while permitting safety to be considered as well.

    I also am convinced that DOT bureaucrats are the last people who should be given full responsibility for designing a new bridge in a sensitive area like the Saugatuck shoreline. (Just look at the “design” of the I-95 overpass.) The scale of the proposed replacement already shows a complete insensitivity to regional character and neighborhood traffic patterns.

    Bravo to all those working towards this designation!

  28. A tremendous idea to make that stretch a scenic highway and the owners of the real estate along its course will greatly benefit as well as crowbars bridge!!! A very cool,erector set in my opinion.

  29. I applaud the efforts of the petitioners in their quest to gain a seat at the table as decisions about this bridge are made. Their foresight in taking a stand on behalf of the Compo Road South/Bridge Street/Imperial Avenue neighborhood is also to be commended. My family settled in this neighborhood 15 years ago, choosing it primarily because its central location theoretically provided the ability to get downtown, to Saugatuck, and to the beach without a car (the sidewalks, the bike lane), and because of the low-key New England-y vibe of the antique housing stock in the neighborhood. Over the years we have watched the volume and speed of traffic increase significantly, threatening the safety of the walkers, joggers and cyclists who frequent Compo Road, many of whom live in other neighborhoods but use Compo for recreation. As for the sidewalks, other than in a few places where new construction has required installation of new sidewalks, there has never been any discernable attempt at maintenance, and their condition is extremely poor, and dangerous in many places for anyone but the fittest, most attentive user.

    Having previously lived in the Kings Highway North Historic District, I have often wondered whether the Compo Road South/Bridge Street/Imperial Avenue neighborhood might not benefit from earning such historic designation from the town. I have a strong belief in the potential to retain a high quality of life in this in-town neighborhood, and in the ability of these historic designations to help homeowners (and townspeople in general, who also benefit) retain the qualities they moved to a neighborhood for. To bring it full circle, I wonder whether such an effort might not go hand-in-hand with seeking scenic highway designation, and would be happy to work on such an effort with other interested parties.

  30. MIke Stuttman

    Thank you to the P&Z candidates who responded. I’d still very much like to here from the remaining candidates.

    Paul Lebowitz, Denise Rose Torve, Howard Lathrop, Glenn Payne please let the Westport voters know where you stand.

    • Sorry for the delay in posting Mike. The 3 of us were scattered around CT today in meetings and such. Plus, I inadvertently sent our comment to Dan’s email address instead of posting it here and thinking all was done, went out for the evening. It’s crazy busy as you can imagine. Thanks for your suggestion for thoughts on this important issue.

  31. I agree completely with the post by Save Westport Now. They were correct when they praised the RTM’s vote in favor of historic designation. As one of the YES votes for this designation, I believe this bridge serves two basic needs: One: it is an iconic structure that adds character to the local and overall community. Two: it serves as a sentinel to protect us from unwanted truck traffic that could come off I95. Its presence actually enhances our safety. I also agree with Helen Martin Block’s comment that we should “repair and retain” this important part of Westport’s history.

    This bridge is only one of many historic structures which deserve our aid in preservation. As a P&Z Commissioner I pledge to work to create strategies which give us tools to do just that.

  32. Al Gratrix Planing & Zoning commissioner/ secretary

    With the development to come in Saugatuck, that is the forecasted Railroad place redevelopment and the completion of the Gault development and rumored changes on the former Maneros property (Rizzutos), this effort to keep the present Wm Cribairi Bridge is a no brainer. To allow the State to make the Exit 17-18 accessory roads (Greens Farms Rd to Bridge St to Riverside Ave) a truck friendly corridor is surely Saugatuck Suicide for residents, commuters and the whole community of Westport.

  33. As candidates for the Planning & Zoning Commission, the Coalition For Westport is pleased to provide its position on the William F. Cribari Bridge. Our bridge is historic; built 131 years ago, it pre-dates automobiles. It is an iconic piece of Westport history. Because it is narrower than the road it links – by feet not lanes – it has the positive effect of calming traffic. As a State road, the CT DOT has a say in this bridge, but so do we, as the town. The CT DOT has identified some structural and perhaps, safety concerns. The overwhelming concern has to be safety. Maintenance in this town (and state) seems to be tomorrow’s problem but unfortunately tomorrow may be today. Rather than speculate, the Coalition supports the proper fact-gathering and analysis to determine what, if anything, is needed. If the determination is that for safety’s sake and to avoid a disaster, change is needed, we support safety. But, we would demand that any change incorporate the past and that improvements respect the look and materials of the bridge. We would insist that any change to the structure – should any be needed – does not impact it visually. We support the philosophy and effort of preserving the bridge. In addition, the Coalition is opposed to any effort that encourages expansion of the bridge and thereby, more traffic into Saugatuck.

    Thank you,
    Denise Torve
    Howard Lathrop
    Glenn Payne
    Coalition For Westport


  34. Dick Lowenstein

    Save the bridge…but somewhere else, like to connect the Imperial Parking Lot to the Library/Levitt Lot or across the Saugatuck near the former Save the Children facility 9(are you reading this, David Waldman?)

  35. Michael Calise

    Mary Cookman great post