Friday Flashback #30

After years of discussion, we’re no closer to a plan for renovating, remodeling, removing or just leaving in place the William Cribari (Bridge Street) bridge.

The last major work was done about 30 years ago. At the time, a temporary span was built just north of the structure.

If you were around then, you remember how well it worked. If you weren’t — well, here’s how it looked:


Mansion Clam House (now Parker Mansion) is at the extreme left, in the center of the photo. Bridge Street — hidden under a canopy of trees — is at the top. Ketchum Street — with its then-distinctive hump — is at the lower right.

And no — this is not fake news. This image was not Photoshopped!

23 responses to “Friday Flashback #30

  1. Yep, I remember that. Also recognize buildings that used to house Manero’s and Peter’s Bridge Market, and the lot (at the west ramp to the temp span) where Boccanfuso’s Garage was.

    • Edward Bloch

      Don’t think you’re seeing the building that housed Manero’s. It’s not in the photo, although part of the Manero’s parking lot appears below center left.

  2. yeah, and the people who first complained bitterly about it, then asked, Gee this is nice, can we keep it?

  3. Peter Barlow

    What the photo doesn’t show is that the temporary bridge was very steep at the west end – not easy driving with snow but kind of fun the rest of the time.

  4. Luisa Francoeur

    I moved back to Westport in 1991 and remember being pleasantly surprised at the temporary span. Not having to drive across a steel grid deck was such a relief because it had always made me nervous – as a new driver at age 16 and on into the future. The temporary structure was also wide enough not to have to worry when encountering oncoming traffic. And I enjoyed the height of that span since it afforded a lovely glimpse of the river environs. The renovation of the existing bridge dispensed with the grid but it is still narrow and the view is lost.

  5. I loved the temporary span. Traffic flowed better and I felt much safer crossing it. Maybe put it back and turn the current bridge into a pedestrian/bike pathway?

  6. Joyce Barnhart

    It’s hard to believe it was so long ago. Does anybody else remember that when the renovation was finished, the supports under the bridge ran across rather than parallel to the river? This had to be corrected because small boats could no longer pass under the bridge and it would have had to be opened for every vessel moving up or down the river, not just the bigger ones. I hope the designers take this into consideration if the Cribari bridge is replaced. .

    • Robbie Guimond

      Joyce , I truly hope this time they get it right. The amount of traffic from bridge openings at 4pm every afternoon would cripple this area, forget the unlikely 18 wheeler truck traffic , how about “all stop” at 6pm for 30 + minutes on a Friday, to allow a federal coast guard mandatory opening. I hope they get it right.

  7. Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

    While I no longer lived in Westport when the temporary bridge was in place I did visit and thought that it was ugly and damaged Saugatuck in both the way it looked and the ability to reach businesses. BEWARE, this temporary span is not what the Connecticut Department of Transportation has in mind as a replacement. I watched the meeting where they made a presentation. What they plan would ruin Saugatuck. Eminent Domain would be invoked and many would loose their land, view sheds would be ruined, the Saugatuck compromised and the amount of heavy traffic that would take advantage of a “new bridge would be a nightmare. Do your homework everyone. It’s vitally important.

    • Robbie Guimond

      Eminent Domain? Many would loose their land? You must be confused. What i saw as a possible replacement looked very similar to whats in place now, in the exact location of the “piece meal ” bridge that by the way was all but replaced in 1989, far from a last remaining complete historic structure. I wish you guys would just call it what it is, your afraid of traffic period. no shame in saying it, you don’t want trucks to come thru your hood. ( or shall i say my hood) we get it .

  8. Morley Boyd

    Oh yes, let’s encourage our nearly bankrupt state government to destroy the oldest active bridge of its type in the nation, seize private property and destroy local businesses plus the rowing club in order to construct a 40 million dollar span which would permit 18 wheelers unfettered access through downtown Saugatuck and into residential neighborhoods. The other, less fortunate communities across the state that have actual infrastructure challenges can just eat cake. Our immediate comfort is much more important.

    • Robbie Guimond

      Seize property? Destroy businesses? Destroy the rowing club? What town is this you speak of?

      • Robbie, don’t be coy. You were at the meeting where DOT presented its plan to build upstream of the current bridge. You know exactly whose land would be seized and you know all about what would happen to the rowing club.

        • Robbie Guimond

          As I recall a temp. bridge would be put in play again , just like what is in the picture above. Whats left of the so called ” historic” bridge would be removed and a similarly designed swing bridge would go in the exact spot. Upon completion everything returns to somewhat normal.

          #1. How does that affect the rowing club?
          #2 who’s land is “seized” ?

          • Nope. Your recollections must have been formed after lunch. Try to keep up. In any event, it’s all public information; you don’t need me to hold your hand. And if you’re really so out of touch with the perils this all presents to your immediate neighbors, turn off the TV and go ask them. Unless, that is, you don’t care. Either way, stop blubbering about the bridge opening. It’s been doing the same thing for 133 years.

            • Robbie Guimond

              Why so personal? Either way your spreading misinformation to push your agenda not cool. maybe ill schedule opens at 4pm every friday afternoon this summer. and well see who starts to blubber. Think of the next 133 years and the rebirth of our waterfront. unless you want the river to continue its slow death .

              • Morley Boyd

                Publicly available Information that runs counter to your agenda is not misinformation.

                • Robbie Guimond

                  While I respect your views and understand your desire ,the fear tactic you choose is in poor taste. Either way… I recall a conversation about the small bit of land on the east side upriver “borrowed” for the project and a sliver of the town property and a bit of the Parkers lot also being borrowed, just like the old picture shows. Im unaware of any impact at all on the rowing club , maybe you can explain that part if you know something we don’t . A valid concern is final structure location, maybe that’s something to be discussed, my preference is in the existing location more or less . The replacement design looks classic and almost identical, still swings (cool factor) and has much to offer both ascetically and mechanically. This info is in the report online I believe. The cost is identical over the life of the span so that’s a wash. As for traffic… maybe the power your associates wield can help putting a mandatory height restriction in place , maybe even a removable ” breakaway” overhead barrier keeping the 13′ height in place unless permits are pulled to use the span for over height use , something done everyday but not by “regular” traffic. Just thinking out loud.

                  • Morley Boyd

                    Didn’t you wonder why the DOT’s presentation last year was MC’d by the agency’s eminent domain specialist? There was a message being sent. More of a warning, really.

                    The cost of repairing the bridge is much less than replacement – nobody buys the DOT’s new math.

                    As for the Rowing Club, I wouldn’t expect you to simply take my word for it – ask them yourself if they think they’ll survive. I trust they’ll simply tell you what that have told me.

                    I don’t need to use fear. The reality is frightening enough.

                    • Robbie Guimond

                      Im sure you are less concerned with the cost and more with truck issue which is ok and can be address aggressively but my personal conversation has me to believe the expense over the life of the span to be a wash. Its in the report, cant ask for much more then that and can’t control it after it starts repair or replace.

                      The rowing clubs only concern is water traffic, they want to be able to pass under whatever spans are in place, temp or permanent. If anyone is aware of this particular issue it would be me. Let me be clear…. this is a federal navigable waterway at no point will this or any project be able to stop marine traffic …. AT ALL…. EVER.

                      Concerning land …By its nature its not a clean business this is a litigious group so the D.O.T would be foolish not to come prepared to move forward.. Id do the same ,so would you.

                      The complete bridge is not historic just the “crown ” and that has been abused ,patched and really never taken care of by the state , town or even the historic folk who claim to love it so. The the bottom half of the bridge was completely replaced in last restoration , 1989 I believe, that’s a fact and not disputable.

                      What we want is similar, a safe useful span that allows our cars, bikes and pedestrians to pass with ease, a design that swings , looks classic , beautiful and “Fits” . Most importantly IMHO that the majority of marine traffic to be able to pass without openings. A barge with a crane? ok swing but the 90% of boats in the local waters it should accommodate them without the delay of a swing. IF not maybe in a hundred years it can be revisited and they will say ” wow they had a chance in 2017 … what were they thinking”.

                    • Morley Boyd

                      You’ve convinced me. The bridge is fake. The rowers must have been stoned when they told me they wouldn’t survive years of construction. And clearly this is a serous problem that can only be solved with 42 million in taxpayer money. What was I thinking?

  9. Valerie Seiling Jacobs

    Morley is absolutely right–if we let the DOT build a new, permanent bridge, we will be permanently stuck with the I-95 overflow and 18-wheelers. Saugatuck, Compo, and the Green’s Farms neighborhoods will be ruined. And if commuters think the congestion is bad now, just wait until we add the spillover highway traffic to the mix. That’s why Morley and the rest of the folks from Westport Preservation Alliance have been working so hard to preserve the bridge. This is a defining moment for Westport.

  10. kind of seems to remind me of the situation when they forced I95 on you/us so many years ago …a lot of good folk left. wonder what’ll happen this time.
    may the preservationists prevail !