Cribari Bridge Advisory Committee Formed

The William F. Cribari/Bridge Street Bridge saga rolls on.

The 1st Selectman’s office just sent out this press release:

The state Department of Transportation recently announced the creation of a Project Advisory Committee for input and guidance as the project to rebuild the William F. Cribari Bridge advances.

The first meeting will take place on Wednesday, July 18 (6:30 p.m., Town Hall Auditorium).

According to the DOT:

CTDOT is initiating preliminary engineering work to address structural and functional issues affecting the bridge. As part of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act, an Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Evaluation will be conducted in order to determine the socio-economic and environmental impacts of various design alternatives. The purpose of the EA/EIE is to explore options that accommodate safe vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian, and marine travel, are resilient to the changing shoreline climate and environmental conditions and consider the historic character of the bridge.

The Cribari Bridge does open. The other day, a mechanical issue kept it in this position for a while. (Photo/David Squires)

Based on the concerns and needs of the community, the Department has identified a group of project stakeholders whose expertise may provide helpful input into a variety of issues, including safety, mobility, environmental concerns, and historic considerations. A Project Advisory Committee is being developed to provide critical input and assist the Department in its decision-making process. Other stakeholders may be identified during the study process and incorporated in the PAC as warranted.

The PAC will meet at key milestones during project development in fulfillment of its role.

Local organizations, businesses and government entities that CT DOT has identified in its initial PAC roster include:

Town of Westport:

  •             First Selectman
  •             Fire Department
  •             Police Department
  •             Public Works Department
  •             Conservation Department
  •             Historic District Commission
  •             Shellfish Commission
  •             Harbormaster
  •             Boating Advisory Committee
  •             Downtown Plan Implementation Committee

Also:

  • Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce
  • Westport Preservation Alliance
  • Bridgebrook Marina
  • All Seasons Marine Works

State and regional entities that have been invited include:

  •             CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
  •             CT Commuter Rail Council
  •             CT Trust for Historic Preservation
  •             CT Fund for the Environment / Save the Sound
  •             Federal Highway Administration
  •             State Historic Preservation Office
  •             Western CT Council of Governments

The Selectman’s office suggested a number of additional organizations and individuals to be included in the PAC when it was made aware of the formation in late June. To date however, CT DOT did not include those groups in its initial invitation, but noted that other stakeholders may be identified and added to the PAC.

The future of the William Cribari (Bridge Street) Bridge is central to any discussion of the future of Saugatuck.
(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

First Selectman Jim Marpe commented, “The creation of this PAC is part of an ongoing environmental assessment that is required due to both the historic nature of the bridge and its location over the Saugatuck River. It should be stressed that this step in the process is not a sign of any intent or decisions regarding the ultimate design or rehabilitation of the bridge. Neither is it a reflection on any conclusions that may be made by the Town to accept the State’s offer to rehabilitate the bridge and turn its ownership over to the Town, as proposed by CT DOT in 2017.”

Marpe continued, “I recognize the Cribari Bridge contributes to the historic character of the Town of Westport and in particular, the Saugatuck community. This will be an important opportunity for the members of the PAC and eventually, the whole community to once again offer its opinions and observations related to the bridge and any environmental impacts that may result from its rebuild or rehabilitation.  The meeting on July 18 is open to the public, although CT DOT management has indicated that public input will be limited at this session.  It is unclear how much input or level of participation will be accepted from those individuals and organizations not identified as members of the PAC in either this or subsequent meetings that will be organized and conducted by the CT DOT.”

Comments or questions regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment process, the formation of the Project Advisory Committee and the agenda/conduct of the July 18 meeting should be directed to CT DOT’s Project Manager, Priti S. Bhardwaj by email (Priti.Bhardwaj@ct.gov) or phone (860- 594-3311).

Another view of the William F. Cribari Bridge. It’s interesting that everyone photographs it from the Riverside Avenue side. (Photo/Michael Champagne)

18 responses to “Cribari Bridge Advisory Committee Formed

  1. Jeff Giannone

    Haha, good luck, sounds like a classic bureaucratic CF! At least we know now nothing will happen for many years. LOL

  2. The Downtown Plan Implementation Committee is on this? Notwithstanding the fact that the Cribari Bridge is waaay outside this group’s published and agreed upon implementation area (aka, downtown Westport) what exactly is its “expertise” when it comes to the bridge?

    • John F. Suggs

      Jim, seriously, you added The Downtown Plan Implementation Committee (DPIC) to this Advisory Group?!? Is this your idea of a sick joke?

      Who amongst us will ever forget that it was your DPIC Chair, Dewey Loselle, who personally wrote your “unusual Sunday afternoon” Press Release three years ago back on September 13, 2015 that infamously coined the nonsensical and false engineering terms of “Severely Deficient Structurally and “Substantially Functionally Obsolete” to describe the Cribari Bridge in order to engender unwarranted public safety fears by our residents?. http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v2_5/comments/55304/

      And Dewey further stated in that Press Release that the Cribari Bridge “is considered a high accident rate bridge” (despite earlier statements by the WPD that it is not a high accident rate bridge.). FOIA records revealed that Dewey knowingly put those false claims in your very mouth via that Official Press Release and it would take us weeks to finally get the DOT to publicly refute those false claims and reassure our worried residents that the bridge was, in fact, safe. And now he, or his DPIC representative, is going to once again be returning to advise the Town and DOT on the Cribari Bridge? What is that famous saying?: “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.”

      Come on Jim, don’t do this. DPIC doesn’t have any credibility here or even the slightest remote connection to the Cribari Bridge. Their involvement can only be understood as to serve as a source for more needless false statements and fear mongering.

      And we now all know that the Cribari Bridge is safe.

      .

  3. Rindy Higgins

    As Chair of the Westport Shellfish Commission, I will be on the PAC and have concerns that I will share. I welcome any environmental concerns that you might have in the event that I can pass them onto the PAC.

  4. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    O.K. 06880 readers let’s see how we can unite behind the effort to save this historic and beautiful bridge. Any modification is likely to destroy much of the area, destroy an ecologically sensitive area, cause major traffic problems through Saugatuck and beyond all the way to the Sherwood Island Connector. Thanks Dan for posting and getting the word out. We will be watching, reading and listening from near and far.

  5. According to locals, the bridgemaster has been opening the bridge twice a day in order to demonstrate the traffic jams it causes.

  6. Stephanie Bass

    …am I the only person in town not invited to join this committee? Bummer…..

  7. Don L. Bergmann

    Rarely am I at a loss for words, but this is such an instance. I e mailed the CT DOT last week with my reactions and comments, including a list of questions. I also offered to serve on the PAC. I cannot understand what the CT DOT is doing, unless those who view the CT DOT’s actions as nefarious are correct. Let us all work together to preserve our bridge.
    Don Bergmann

  8. I hope you guys can preserve what makes Westport, CT one of the most special places on earth. This bridge is on of things worth saving. Supporting your efforts. I love this bridge. Great photos too btw.

  9. I write as co-chair of Save Westport Now to share that our organization’s members, along with other esteemed members of our community, were early stakeholders to recognize the importance of sitting at the table to protect the Cribari Bridge, arguably one of Westport’s most important and historic icons.

    While not included in Mr. Marpe’s press release, SWN has been identified by CT DOT as a stakeholder and has received a formal invitation to participate on the Project Advisory Committee. SWN is looking forward to constructively participating in the proceedings.

    Ian E. Warburg
    Co-Chair
    Save Westport Now

    • Werner Liepolt

      Residents of the Bridge Street Neighborhood petitioned some years ago to be included as stakeholders in any project involving federal funding (https://www.npi.org/NEPA/nhpa106
      ) that affects the Cribari Bridge and the Bridge Street National Historic District. Several neighbors have accepted ConnDOT’s invitation to participate.

  10. Tom Feeley Sr

    Please don’t delude yourselves that CT DOT hasn’t already made a decision.

    Remember the Siting Commission about cell towers that listened to a packed auditorium begging to be spared? They insulted Senator Blumenthal, then Attny General, returned to Hartford to IGNORE everything they heard.

    They invite everybody to let them rant and get over it, then do whatever they want.
    Sad but probably more likely.

    • Tom, Your stated fears and concerns are quite legitimate and well earned. In this case, Dewey Loselle of DPIC and Sue Prosi then of Western CT Council of Governments (both organizations that are members of this Public Advisory Cmt) met in the Spring of 2015 and conspired to turn a then DOT $500 K proposal to do “minor repairs and spot painting” on the bridge into a $42.5 Million replacement bridge! We know this because we have the FOIA’ed emails.

      Luckily groups like my own, Westport Preservation Alliance http://www.preservewestport.com – along with Save Westport Now, The Bridge Street Neighbors, the Greens Farms Association and thousands of individuals rallied and successfully got the $42.5 Million stripped from DOT’s budget. No money no destruction of the Cribari Bridge. That is why this year long Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Evaluation (EA/EIE) is only now being trotted out. (It was originally scheduled to have been completed in Summer 2018.) They are using old funding carried over from 2014-2017 to pay for it. But when it is completed next year sometime, DOT still faces the fact that there is no money currently budgeted for them to do anything with our beloved bridge but the original “minor repairs and spot painting”.

      Of course, we fully understand that this DOT PAC meeting next week is basically a one time “dog and pony show” pretending to garner public input. Realize that DOT and the Marpe Administration have already shown their hand in this by adding so many Governmental Entities to this “public” advisory group AND simultaneously not even acknowledging the real community groups like Save Westport Now, the Bridge Street Neighbors and the Greens Farms Association who have been invited by virtue of their long standing Interested Party Designation to the Federal Review. Yet none of them are anywhere to be seen in the Administration’s official Press Release. Trust me, all of us have been fighting to protect the Cribari Bridge these past three years and we are not going away. If you want to receive updates please sign up for our periodic email blasts at http://www.preservewestport.com

      Best, John F. Suggs
      Member, Westport Preservation Alliance

      • Werner Liepolt

        It is good to see the evidence of who does what and when they do it.

        • I’ve seen the FOIA emails about the bridge that John mentioned. The Westport Historic District Commission sure has some explaining to do. Especially its staff person. What kind of preservation group secretly works to sabotage the effort to conserve a beloved historic landmark like this one?

  11. You have nothing to worry about. With this many people on the PAC, nothing will get done. Comical at best.

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