Scott Smith’s Concrete Questions

The roads of Westport play an important — if often unrecognized — role in our lives. When we do think about them, it’s in the context of traffic, alternate routes, that sort of thing.

Scott Smith thinks of asphalt and concrete. The longtime Westporter writes:

The autumn flurry of repaving Westport’s road before the asphalt plants shut down for the winter makes me wonder about the status of some other byways around town. I’m thinking of the local streetscapes I travel that are still paved with concrete.

Three spots come to mind: the mile or so along Greens Farms Road between Compo and Hillspoint, and 2 blocks on Riverside — one heading toward the train station, the other from Viva’s to the VFW. Made of poured aggregate cement and laid down in blocks of 20 feet or so, these stretches of old roadway remind me of a time when things were built to last.

Concrete on Greens Farms Road …

But not always. Years ago, while re-landscaping a home I lived in off Imperial Avenue, I dug up a bunch of old concrete blocks. They were odd shapes, most 2 or 3 feet across and all 6 to 8 inches thick, smooth on one side and jagged on the other.

The house was built in 1960, on low-lying property, so I figured they were fill from when construction of the I-95 Turnpike tore through town. The chunks of pavement were a bear to raise up out of the ground, but made great stepping stones. I bet they are still there.

… on Riverside Avenue north of the Cribari Bridge …

It’s probably a state versus town issue, but as I see other local roads in the continual process of getting stripped of asphalt and replaced with new black pavement, I wonder what’s up with these concrete remnants of vintage Westport.

Are there any longtime townies — or people in Public Works — who could let the rest of us know when these roads were first laid down, and how long they might stick around?

… and near the train station. (Photos/Scott Smith)

9 responses to “Scott Smith’s Concrete Questions

  1. Growing up here, I remember concrete was used on a lot of roads. South Compo to all the way to where it meets Hillspoint Road, was concrete. You can see where the asphalt drops to what was the original shoulder. I think Bridge Street was concrete, too.

  2. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    When I was young, there were still remnants of the long-lost trolley tracks that ran from downtown to the beach as well as on Post Rd.. My understanding is that the concrete roads, as well as the walls on the road next to Compo were WPA projects during the depression.

  3. Always wondered why that stretch of road from Riverside Ave to Bridge street and then beyond by the Duck are always in such poor shape.

  4. Thanks, Dan, and happy Thanksgiving! Eric, stands to reason then that the concrete fill in my old backyard was from South Compo when they tore up the road, most likely in the late ’50s, to salvage the steel rails. Wouldn’t it be cool to still have trolleys rolling through town?

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      As a young boy, one of my best friends and link to Olde Westport, was a neighbor, Chip Duffy, a retired mason. He not only had worked on the concrete roads in Westport during the depression, but earlier had been a conductor on the streetcars that ran from downtown to the beach. One of his most interesting stories was that he would turn out the lights so that teens on a date could “neck” as he put it, in privacy.

  5. Myrtle Ave is a concrete road – underneath the asphalt. I think it was done in 1932 when it was widened. If you look carefully, you can see the ghost of the original concrete roadbed. The latter makes a brief appearance as well whenever the asphalt overlay is milled prior to repaving. Kinda cool – but a real bear to cut through for below ground utility work.

  6. I have always been under the impression the concrete is still under most of these roads as they formed a solid foundation for the road bed. In the early ’50’s I recall my dad being careful not to park too close to the curb as the door would bang into the high stone curbs that lined Riverside Ave. I was told the “modern” cars were lower to the ground. Up until the last ten years there was a section of Riverside Ave near the VFW property where you could still see the tops of the trolly tracks that were covered with concrete and then asphalt. I remember a newly made (concrete) Greens Farms Rd. between Compo and Hillspoint created by the state to replace the windy back road that gave way to i-95. It seemed twice as wide as any other road in Westport and became a “drag-strip” on Saturday nights.

    • Start at Hillspoint end at Hales. Awesome race. Always have somebody scouting at Hales for any cars coming the other way.

  7. Dan, When they do this repaving there should be able to better cap the sewer lids as they do the paving. I have gotten two flats in Westport going over the sharp edges of these raised sewer lids. Kemp