Vague, preliminary plans for reconstruction (renovation? demolition and rebuilding? something else?) of the Bridge Street Bridge are producing plenty of froth (save it! sorta do something with it! no, we need a new bridge!). on all sides of the issue.
Someone with no skin in the game — but plenty of expertise — is a former Westporter who spent an entire career in the transportation industry. The other day, this person sent a thoughtful email to “06880.” As we gear up for public meetings and plenty of debate in the months ahead, this view is worth hearing:
I am truly undecided on what direction this project should take. I see the pros and cons of each solution. I don’t know which I favor.
This small committee that wants to designate the corridor as a Scenic Highway is doing so to tie the hands of the “experts” and limit the options available in their bag of tricks.
Of course, the “experts” are transportation experts, not Saugatuck experts, and they have very little sensitivity to the issues of Saugatuck. That’s what a public hearing should be about: a place where the transportation experts can learn about Saugatuck, and vice versa. The problem is that each side is staking out its territory early, and trying to dictate the outcome in their favor.
Consider the Merritt Parkway. We gave it historic designation, and limited the options of what can be done to it. Frankly, I think the Merritt Parkway can be the key to unchoking the highways in Fairfield County. Our forefathers set aside this land for us to do just that. We could make a glorious “cars only” parkway that could move people. But by giving it a special designation we’ve taken that option off the table. The only options left to move cars in Fairfield County are probably unaffordable, if not impossible.
So some transportation experts take the attitude that “you people have limited our options to move cars. Choke on them then!”
I say, leave all options open. Let a good airing of the issues lead us to a good solution. I hope the transportation experts will listen to the Saugatuck experts, and try to take their wishes into account.
I think that was done in the last big rehab project. They deserve some credit for bending over backwards to accommodate local issues. They might be able to do that once again.