A Bridge Too Far

Several Westporters have recently noted their bad luck. They’ve been held up by the opening of the William Cribari Bridge — the span over the Saugatuck River that usually swings open only a few times a year.

It may not be coincidence. It could be deliberate.

Alert “06880” reader Billy Scalzi says that for the past 2 or 3 weeks, the same boater has demanded the bridge be opened once or twice a day — always during rush hour.

Billy snapped these photos:

He’s seen it happen time and again. But that’s all Billy knows. If any “06880” reader knows more, click “Comments” below.

137 responses to “A Bridge Too Far

  1. David Abrams

    If it has been the same time every day, there should have been plenty of times when the tide was low enough to allow him to pass underneath. Am I missing something?

  2. Matthew Mandell

    Someone should get the name of the boat, then we can run this down.

    Last year there was an opening right at rush hour and the boat merely went from the north side and then docked by the fire house area to the south. There seemed to be no need to do it. It was awfully strange at the time……

  3. Jack Whittle

    as with all things, follow the money – ask yourself, who suffers financially with the bridge in it’s current state (which doesn’t allow boats above a certain size or with taller deck structures to pass under the bridge)?

  4. Diane Silfen

    With the soft top folded down it might go under without opening the bridge at all. Would love to know the end to this story

  5. Ralph Balducci

    When I passed under the bridge on a kayak recently I wondered about that boat because it was about high tide and I thought to myself that the particular boat probably could pass under most any other time of the tide cycle except at that point.

  6. Sherry Jagerson

    As for the time of day, my understanding is that neither the RR bridge nor the state bridge are allowed to open during rush hour. They use to be very strict about this.

  7. Werner Liepolt

    The boat is moored at Bridgebrook Marina. It’s piloted by Bridgebrook’s owner, Robbie Guimond. http://www.bridgebrookmarina.com/

    • John F. Suggs

      Werner, If you are correct and the boat belongs to Robbie Guimond than this is a bit troubling. After all, Robbie has been publicly advocating for a larger replacement bridge for the past three years. And of course, the DOT’s Cribari Bridge Public Advisory Committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting this very week on Weds July 18th. Is this possibly an attempt by him to futher advocate for replacing the bridge?

      • Werner Liepolt

        Who operates the boat and when is clear to everyone with a view of the river… mine is from the Saugatuck Rowing Club gym.

      • Jack Whittle

        John – see my post above.

  8. The boat’s registration numbers are not clearly visible, which might be intentional since ownership of the boat could easily be determined.

  9. John F. Suggs

    I witnessed (and filmed) that same boat go through the opened Cribari Bridge the afternoon of July 5 and the morning (approximately 10:00 am) of July 12th. I thought it strange on the 12th because the Cribari Bridge is typically only opened approx 13 times a year and yet here I was seeing it twice in a week. When it was opened on the 5th it was so hot the bridges motor gave out and they were forced to try and close it manually. Problem was they didnt have the proper equipment. So they struggled to close it for over two hours while they worked to get the motor running. I got the guys some ice cold water from Dunkin Donuts. It was so hot! Metro North was also having single problems because of the heat.

  10. I heard the same thing from a local merchant

  11. Morley Boyd

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten reports that Robbie was churning the bridge. Many people seemed to know about it. If those reports are actually true, I guess I’m disappointed but not shocked; I seem to recall that Robbie has made public comments in the recent past about the impact the bridge’s opening has on auto traffic. I suppose this may be a DIY attempt to shape public opinion about the bridge’s future by intentionally causing difficulty for drivers. If that’s what’s going on, it’s not too cool.

  12. Something’s fishy. Since when is it OK to open the bridge for a pleasure craft during rush hour? As kids we marveled at the 19th century mechanism that allowed such a structure to move with 4 or 5 men at the turnstile.

  13. Bill Scalzi

    The name of the boat is Outnumbered and he only has it opened at high tide. Most times twice a day.

    • I agree it doesn’t look like a tall boat. I believe originally the bridge was constructed to open for commercial boats during commercial hours not pleasure cruising at any given time. Is this an arrestable crime?

  14. Michael Schreder

    The boat owner is the owner of the marina just north of the bridge on the Saugatuck. He also has a line anchorage just south of the Bridge on the Saugatuck. He is the only boat who takes advantage of the opening of the bridge. Today he went out, south, forcing the bridge to open for him at 4:50
    pm so that he could park his boat just south of the Bridge on his(?) line
    anchorage. He then left his boat and returned home, on tthe north side of the bridge in his tender. No other boats make the bridge open and close for them.

  15. Morley Boyd

    If I’m not mistaken, there is a cost to the town every time the bridge opens. So this alleged act of civil disruption is not exactly consequence free for taxpayers.

    • John F. Suggs

      On the 5th of July when the heat knocked out the motor and kept the bridge from being succesfully closed for over 2 hours the traffic was completely backed up. Under a mounting sense of urgency, the poor 3 man DOT team struggled mightedly throughout to fix it. Even attempting to shut it manually with the tools they had on hand. I know. I was there and filmed their incredible efforts. I also remember watching the man on the boat casually dive off the back of his boat and take a cool dip in the river while they worked. And I remember a man operating a restaurant nearby even came up and asked the police if he should go ahead and cancel all of his dinner reservations and shut down his restuarant for the evening. This was not a victimless prank! At a minimum the 3 DOT staff time for those two long hours and the police time spent redirecting traffic should all be billed to the boat owner. Especially considering that his bridge opening requests actually continued in the days and weeks ahead inspite of the heat knocking the motor out on the 5th. Jim Marpe can’t the town seek some form of financial reimbursement by the boat owner for these costs? At what point does this cease to be a legitimate bridge opening request and become harassment? Surely there has to be an official record kept of just how many times he has requested the bridge to be opened? Just how many times has he done this?

      • Robbie Guimond

        John are you saying the bridge in is current configuration is unable to open for marine traffic? and if opened it might just decide to quit its post and never close again snarling traffic for a year or two?

  16. Diane Silfen

    Just s thought. Can the Harbor Master help with this?

  17. Peter Perry

    What am I missing ? If these shenanigans have been going on for for at least 2 weeks why aren’t town and possibly state officials doing anything about this? Why does it take photos by a concerned citizen sent to a blog to get any action going in this town? First it’s the inconsiderate actions of some people prior to the fireworks and now this.

  18. Werner Liepolt

    As the US Coast Guard has jurisdiction over draw (and swing) bridges, it may be that local officials are coming confused about who should act. Coast Guard rules are clear about canopies and rigging being lowered.

  19. Mary Ellen Adipietro

    As someone who crosses this bridge 6 times a day and spends 3 hours in traffic going from one side of town to the other, I am incensed! Maybe we should all clog up his voice mail while we are waiting for the bridge! Or better yet, I may park in his driveway while I wait.

    • Nancy Hunter

      That’s a perfect solution!

      • Mike Bennett

        Unfortunately the engineers made a mistake when replacing the bridge years ago. It may look like the original bridge, but looks are deceiving. The bridge is actually a few feet lower for boat clearance. This represents a problem for many boats. Rob pays home, business equipment, and vehicle tax to Westport. Give him a break please! He didn’t make the times when the bridge can be opened. He doesn’t control the weather. So on a nice day he should be able to enjoy his family and the time they spend on the water.

        • So Robbie is the victim?

        • Werner Liepolt

          I agree completely unless he is purposely doing this to spitefully inconvenience his fellow Westporters. He’s not garnering good publicity for Bridgebrook this way.

        • Werner Liepolt

          No. No breaks. If Robbie (overburdened with taxes as he is) has the leisure to take his family boating at the times when his (tax-paying) neighbors are patiently waiting for him to get back through the bridge then he could’ve enjoyed another hour on the water and passed under the bridge without any inconvenience to anyone.

        • Jack Whittle

          Oh please – I run my boat (21’ Sea Ray) under the bridge all the time, aside from a short window of time during high tide. As for the 3’ shorter story, that’s been his claim but I would think maybe they lost a foot or so at best.

          One more thing – how long has he owned that marina?

          • Mike Bennett

            I think i wrote a few feet lower. A few being 2. If your terribley inconvenienced you should grab a tide chart and anticipate what time you need to get over the bridge and if the coincide call the number and ask if the bridge is scheduled to be opened on that day. I’m sure they will tell you so you can adjust your route or schedule. Problem solved. Much bigger things to worry about. P.S. two feet is equilvaleny four hours of tide. Twice a day. That’s 33% of the day (2 tides every day = 8hrs)

            • Robbie Guimond

              Bingo! That’s what was left for us to deal with when the town and D.O.T REPLACED the bridge in the 90’s …..33% of the time no access. which means 33% of the time rescues on the river might become recoveries. P+Z board member Jack Whittle seems to not care about that point, just that his 21′ sundeck kinda gets under twice a year.

        • Jack Whittle

          I will spare you the suspense – the gentleman in question states on his own website that he first began operating the marina in 1995 – that’s right, well AFTER the work done on the Bridge St Bridge which supposedly lowered it. His claims of that project “taking away” some of his business are false, he only began operating his marina with the bridge as it is now. He simply wants the state’s big-ass concrete replacement bridge to enlarge his marina’s potential client base.

          • John Franklin

            Bridgebrook is a family business. Robbie’s father Lou owned and operated the marina well BEFORE the last bridge renovation. The renovation was mis-designed and caused lower clearance for boats. As a concession to up-river marinas, they were granted unrestricted bridge openings.

        • Jennifer E Rankine

          Worth re-reading Michael Shreder’s comments and observation above.

  20. John, who granted the unrestricted bridge openings and how was that concession documented? Maybe it’s time to review that agreement.

  21. Larry Weisman

    On the eve of the state inquiry into the Cribari bridge, it seems fair to ask what makes the bridge «historic » rather than just « old ». After all, I am old (and similarly décrépit, but don’t think of myself as historic.
    Like most Westporters, I cross the bridge often and it seems to me to be ugly, unsafe, and impractical. Replacing it would provide an opportunity to hold a design competition with the goal of harnessing twenty-first century technology and advances in engineering to produce a bridge that’s architecturally significant, efficient and attractive.
    If the goal of thise who favor repairing and retaining the bridge is to discourage truck traffic through Saugatuck – a l’audible goal in my opinion – there are far more sensible and effective ways to do that, as for example, to lobby the state to prohibit trucks on that portion of Rte.136 which leads to and from the bridge. Darien was able to do that (between MLK Blvd. and exit 11 on I-95) and with that precedent to in place, Westport should be able to do the same.

    • Jennifer E Rankine

      “Europe and Asia are peppered with historic bridges—some more than 1,000 years old—that are still standing and often still in operation. The United States is still a relatively young nation, but if we don’t start seeking more ways to preserve our historic bridges and other structures, what evidence of our architectural achievements will be left for future generations to enjoy? Historic bridge restoration offers a prime opportunity to revisit successful civic engineering and rebuild upon those foundations to create sound, safe, high-performing structures that can reinforce community identity and offer beautiful reminders of a proud past.” – Mike Wenning, PE


    • Morley Boyd

      Larry, with respect, over 13,000 vehicles manage to cross the bridge in question without incident each and every day. Unless you’ve recently traded in your passenger car for a Soviet era mobile rocket launcher which happens to exceed the bridge’s current 20 ton posting, it’s unclear to me how you “feel” unsafe. We’re way past the “let’s scare soccer moms” stage, OK?

      • Robbie Guimond

        Morley you would be surprised how un-scareable mothers of young kids are, you might also be surprised to hear your “soccer mom ” comment is disparaging towards women. well played.

        • After sending your credibility to the bottom of the river with this scheme to defraud taxpayers, you’re advising me on the finer points of strategy? How about apologizing to the town and offering to repay us for all the phony openings we had to absorb on your account?

          • Robbie Guimond

            Morley , Again you must not of read my main comment and continue to spin things . The only apology here should be from you for your misogynistic remark , as the father of three girls I found it gross.

            • Morley Boyd

              Are you also refusing to repay the town for the cost of your fraud?

              • Robbie Guimond

                Figure out what that cost is and present it, it might be unreasonable to open the bridge and then become fiscally responsible to replace it and minimize openings.

              • William Strittmatter

                I’m curious what fraud you see? If the rules on bridge opening that are posted elsewhere in this thread are correct, anyone wanting the bridge opened to pass their boat is entitled to have it done whether for joyriding or any other reason.

                If you believe this was an act of civil disobedience rather than valid request for a bridge opening (though that seems not to be precluded by the rules), I don’t recall you similarly requesting reimbursement from the folks disrupting traffic protesting on the Post Road bridge? But maybe I’m wrong there.

              • Bart Shuldman

                Morley-what fraud?

                • Morley Boyd

                  Around the time that DOT announced the formation of its mysterious bridge committee, Cribari bridge opening requests suddenly spiked like crazy. And now we know who did it. And why. That person has now offered to reimburse the town if some sends him a bill.

                  • William Strittmatter

                    I believe you misread his comment. It appears to me he suggests looking at the cost of opening the bridge versus the cost of having a replacement bridge that doesn’t need to be opened or at least opened less frequently.

    • Werner Liepolt

      Your idea to ban truck traffic on Rt 136 is terrific. You should include Greens Farms Road. I hope you start soon. I’ll sign the petition.

      Your idea for a Brutalist new bridge, not so much.

  22. Ernie Lorimer

    From the regs:

    (c) The draw of the Route 136 Bridge, mile 1.3 at Saugatuck shall operate as follows:
    (1) Year-round, need not open weekdays, except Federal holidays, from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    (2) From April 15-October 31, open on signal if at least two hours notice is given, except as provided in paragraph (c)(1) of this section.
    (3) From November 1-April 14, open on signal:
    (i) From 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. if at least eight hours notice is given;
    (ii) From 3 p.m. to 8:30 a.m., if at least 24 hours notice is given, except as provided in paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

  23. Ernie Lorimer

    Also from the regs:

    § 117.11 Unnecessary opening of the draw.
    No vessel owner or operator shall –
    (a) Signal a drawbridge to open if the vertical clearance is sufficient to allow the vessel, after all lowerable nonstructural vessel appurtenances that are not essential to navigation have been lowered, to safely pass under the drawbridge in the closed position; or
    (b) Signal a drawbridge to open for any purpose other than to pass through the drawbridge opening.

  24. Justin Cribari

    Why don’t we just sink the boat and leave it out there as an example. Nobody seems to be complaining about how bad traffic is when the bridge isn’t open!! Maybe you should have a contest to see who knows how to direct traffic the best, than a contest for a new bridge! Start charging more to open the bridge and see how he likes it!!

    • Please make sure our children aren’t sleeping aboard when you sink our boat to teach us a lesson, Justin. We live on this river. Its our life. People who don’t use the river seem to be forgetting that part. I’d be happy to speak to the rest of your complaint, but I’m not sure what it even means. If the namesake is your concern, no one wants to change the honorary name of that bridge. Im under the assumption you were joking when you made that threat of sinking our boat, for everyone on the internet to see.

    • Robbie Guimond

      So much for leaving the boat on anchor over nite to not have to request an opening upon return home.

  25. Jack Whittle

    I should be clear that I don’t have a problem with Robbie Guimond having an opinion about the preservation of the Cribari / Bridge Street Bridge, in fact he is entitled to his opinion and views, and Dan has previously given him this platform to make them known: (https://06880danwoog.com/2016/06/10/robbie-guimond-raise-the-bridge-for-safety-and-commerce/ ) –

    I DO want to reveal the financial interest behind those views (his marina would surely benefit from a replacement bridge, which might have an underpass height similar to the railroad bridge further down the river) so financial the reason behind his position is known and weighed.

    As far as repeatedly (and unnecessarily) causing the bridge to open during the day to inconvenience the rest of us in order to make some kind of point, that’s well beyond proper discourse and possibly exposes the culprit to penalties and fines.

  26. Two of my previous boats were docked on the Saugatuck River next to the bridge. The first year I had a small boat docked behind what was the Mansion Clamhouse. It was such a hassle using my boat and timing the tides to fit under the bridge. My boat always seemed to be a few inches or a foot too high to fit under with my bimini canvas top lowered when it was time to leave or return so there was always a bit of waiting for the tides. I realized later on that I could request the bridge be opened but I had already decided to move to a dock on the other side of the bridge (I also did not want to have to time my departures and arrivals to allow the DOT crew to arrive). The Coast Guard regs are clear. I’ve traveled under many bridges across the USA in at least one dozen states in boats and it is very rare to have a bridge with restrictions stricter than this bridge. I think the times on the restriction seem fair but in the data-driven environment that we live in, data can be collected, and facts used, to determine if the times need to be lobbied for slight adjustment. Now if someone is purposely opening the bridge to make a statement, that is very troublesome. I have seen the bridge opened for Outnumbered quite a few times and to me it seemed that he was re-positioning his boat so it could be used but I did not pay close attention. Also, on the subject of the Saugatuck River, there is not only a bridge height issue but a dredging issue which needs to be addressed ASAP! The River is becoming non-navigable and will one day be completely unusable due to the depths. I’ve watched it fill-in with mud over the years and started to have to time my boat trips due to the depths in certain areas of the river.

  27. Robbie Guimond

    No need to hide, my young family plays in and on the river boating , paddle boarding, kayaking ,swimming and soon rowing. We use our family boat daily. I also work on the River and provide public access unlike most.

    My wife and I request opens and go under within the rules of the federal Gov. and NEVER open just to cause traffic…. Ever ! I do have to work a second job to afford the cost of Westport and 3 young boaters which means the need to open at the end of a long hot day. Taking into consideration the “black out ” times im forced to put the boat on anchor then take a skiff back to organize my 3 , 6 and 7 year old girls along with guests, never easy or predictable ,then return to the boat by skiff to depart which would be impossible other wise.
    Concerning the boat, the top isn’t collapsible but we did removed the radar arch to limit openings , that said we will step up to a larger boat at some point soon .

    Since 1988 Ive had 32 slips north of the river and know of roughly 100+ more who could and have requested openings and will do more often. im even considering a lobstering endeavor to make ends meet.

    P+Z board member Jack Whittle is correct, id do better if the bridge was replaced but so would the restaurants along the rivers banks ,the downtown merchants, the four marinas and private homeowners to name a few, but most importantly the poor rower who almost drowned last week because the low bridge height prevented the marine police access to him in life saving time. I offered a free slip to the marine police to patrol the river and personal want to thank the marine division for working so hard to protect us salty folk. that job is hard and with the new influx of people will get more difficult.

    Lets all work together to find creative solutions to this old bridge that was COMPLETELY replaced in the 90’s other then the beat up truss plopped back on top to for historic ascetics .

    IMHO Mr Weismann comment is spot on.

    im available to anyone who would like to have a reasonable ,respectful conversation and of course is able to agree to disagree. and if you would like to take a close look at the bridge from the water I’m available as well.

    • Awesome response Robbie and two thumbs up for taking advantage of the Saugatuck River and all that it has to offer! When I have kids, I hope they will enjoy the Saugatuck River as much as I have since I was a kid. It has been a major part of my life and I hope it gets dredged soon!

    • Morley Boyd

      Robbie, a previous commenter who appeared to possibly be speaking on your behalf informed that: “As a concession to up-river marinas, they were granted unrestricted bridge openings”. If that statement is substantially true, would you mind indicating who conferred this privilege upon your business?

      • Robbie Guimond

        Morley, no one speaks on my behalf , read the federal coast guard regulations, all vessels can request openings as we have and will continue to do so. Hopefully the D.O.T pulls its tail back out from between its legs as you have described them doing after your campaign against them and allows the river to once again thrive , limits tractor trailers by creating a Pratt trust swing bridge installed on our river that minimizes openings, allows pedestrian and bike paths and of course relieves dally traffic around Saugatuck. Who would object to that?

        • Morley Boyd

          Robbie, is this a true statement or not: “As a concession to up-river marinas, they were granted unrestricted bridge openings”?

          • Robbie Guimond

            Morley , the Federal Regs were posted , please reread the comments. Im not able to confirm others statements ,please ask them directly.

            What I will say is the 90’s project did in FACT lower marine clearance by 34″ forcing a law suit costing years and millions in corrective measures only to end up still 24″ less in clearance, crippling boat traffic which can be seen by the numerous empty marina slips upriver. we have a chance here to make a lot of improvements including truck traffic control, lets not blow it again.

    • Jack Whittle

      Robbie – two quibbles with your post – first, the “poor rower who almost drowned because the low bridge height prevented marine police access to him in life saving time” statement; this ain’t the mighty Mississippi, the rower was all of 50 feet from shore, Any “lifesaving” would most quickly be handled from the nearby shore; and second, I am not on the P&Z Commission these days (I can hear the “thank God” from certain circles now!)

      • Robbie Guimond

        Mr whittle thank you for your service to the town.

        id be shocked if you have even dipped your feet in the river not to mention a real swim , the current is dangerously strong and many spots a strong swimmer can’t maintain position because of that strength, as the avid boater you claim to be I would imagine you know the currents along the docks you’ve motored too. On any given day you can watch novice paddlers ,rowers etc. in trouble because of the current. It is not something to play with and its July with warm temps.

        • Robbie Guimond

          http://cdn.westportnow.com/ee/images/uploads/river07121801pop_edited-002.jpg. not as nice of a picture march at 530am.

        • Jack Whittle

          Not that I am offended by your guess as to my famiarity with the Saugatuck, but I have swum in it from the northern edge of Town (behind Riverfield Drive, where I perfected my back flip off of a rope swing) to Lees Pond (behind my house) to behind the Solway’s House (near Bedford JHS, err Saugatuck El), to the 95 Bridge (don’t ask), to Saugatuck bay – yeah, there’s a current at mid tide, but you paint a dangerous picture that I haven’t encountered. I do appreciate your ability to engage on this topic while maintaining civility – that’s often lacking in these matters.

          • Robbie Guimond

            Sounds like a strong back flip. ill set up a rope of the crane and we can teach the kids how to “splash”

  28. The colloquy here is entertaining, but perhaps lacking in self awareness. To someone who doesn’t much care either way, it reads a bit like “I want the bridge to be kept as it is but I don’t want any inconvenience to me, and anyone who inconveniences me as a side effect of my wanting no change should be stopped on the grounds that it’s just not fair that I don’t get my way.”

    • Morley Boyd

      That those who do not support the restoration of this bridge often find it necessary to cloak their real opinions says a lot about where the balance of public opinion surrounding this issue has mostly settled.

      • What does that mean in English?

        • Morley Boyd

          I’m pretty sure we understand each other. Speaking of which, thanks for taking the time to raise everyone’s self-awareness.

          • If I understood your comment, I would not have asked you to explain it. I do not understand your comment, and would be grateful for an explanation. Thank you.

    • Jack Whittle

      Your point (which I would like to understand better) might be more effectively made if you didn’t begin with the whole “you are lacking in self-awareness” observation – seems like you are cloaking a position in personal critisism; I understand the side you are on but not the reasons behind that stance. Can you elaborate?

  29. Bart Shuldman

    How wonderful it would be to have a bridge talk enough to let boats pass under and then a westport allow development on the water for docks and restaurants. It would bring many to our town and bring in more commerce.

    The erector set Bridge has long past it use. Just don’t make the lanes wide enough for larger trucks.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      How many examples do we have of tractor trailer drivers ignoring height, weight, width warning. We saw two crash into the RR underpass just yesterday! We have all seen large banned commercial trucks on the Merritt. A few weeks ago, as I was on my morning commute to bring my daughter to Norwalk, we had to wait for a tractor trailer to back up on Bridge Street (coming from Greens Farms,) so they could take Imperial over the river instead. I don’t know that solutions such as “signs” prohibiting them, flashing lights with size restrictions, etc… are going to keep them off, because they always assume that those aren’t accurate and that they’ll fit. The trusses do keep trucks away, like them or not. This is important, in keeping this area free from the heavy traffic that the state wants to send onto our local roads. Some mornings, to get over the bridge going towards Norwalk, Greens Farms is backed up past Hillspoint. A bigger bridge isn’t going to take care of the intersection with Riverside, so it’s just going to be even more backed up if I-95 construction traffic is shunted to this area. We have to be strategic and long term about this.

      • Werner Liepolt

        I think any plan that ConnDOT has for Saugatuck ought to include strategies for REDUCING the I95 overflow that daily fills our residential neighborhoods from Exit 19 to the Norwalk line.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      Sorry Bart, I didn’t mean to reply to your post and hijack your comment. I meant it to be a general comment.

    • Jennifer E Rankine

      It sounds nice, but there is a lot to consider in addition to the bridge (and its historical significance) – ranging from a fragile and important ecosystem to cost (Compo channel as an example:)

      The board voted on Dec. 7 to approve $1.2 million to dredge 20,727 cubic yards of sediment from the channel and the marina. The dredging is expected to be covered 100 percent, over the next 15 years, by the boat slip owners. Last dredged in 1993, the Compo Marina channel pales in comparison to the time since the Saugatuck River was last dredged in 1969, a dredging project that has been in limbo for years.


      • Bart Shuldman

        I know it is controversial, but developing our river TJ alllow boats to come up and dock and have lunch or dinner and build another commercial area would be great.

        We go to Northport from Norwalk. They have a town dock. It’s free and we walk thru town and at a minimum get an ice cream. It’s fun and there are many boaters.

        We also do Prime in Stamford. We pay for the dock and then have dinner. It’s wondeful.

        The erector set Bridge has past its time. Raise it up, replace it with a narrow new bridge and let’s enjoy our river.

        Of course I know this is controversial. But I see no value to Westport other than those that like the erector set. JMHO.

        • Jennifer E Rankine

          Yes it’s very nice, we’ve done all that by boat too, but both are different in size and purpose than the Saugatuck River. Plus aren’t we already using the upper Saugatuck River quite nicely with paddleboarders, crew teams, and kayaks? And boaters now can already access the The Duck, Saugatuck Sweets and more, and I suppose go up-the-river through the Cribari swing bridge if the river is ever dredged for enough depth, albeit unlikely. We sail to Mystic harbor and have to wait for their in-town bridge to open – and watching it is part of the treat of going there.

          • I wouldn’t say there is easy access to the Duck, Saugatuck Sweets, etc. During low tide, the River is too shallow for medium size vessels.

      • Lets not get confused on the dredging… the dredging referenced specifically only covered the main entry channel to Ned Dimes (Compo) and the marina itself I believe. It did not go beyond towards the Yacht clubs, up the river, etc. Its filling in there at an alarming rate. Medium size vessels can no longer pass through to the Bridge St Bridge and large vessels can barely get to the yacht clubs during low tides. Further, I don’t know what depth the entry channel was dredged to this past winter/spring but I saw 5 feet flash on my screen during low tide the other day in certain parts – ideally they would’ve dredged that main thoroughfare to be deeper. The problem is the federal government is aware the River needs dredging but its on a low priority list and may never happen due to there being no commercial traffic on the River. It may be time for Westport to consider picking up the tab and getting it done.

    • Werner Liepolt

      A prerequisite to the recommercialization of the river above the Cribari Bridge is dredging. The town thrived on commercial river traffic for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But Bart, show me the plan for dredging that I have heard dreamers talk about for at least the last fifteen years. Show me how you’re going to get the dredging and exorbitantly expensive civic projects you mention done in the financially jeopardized economy you so frequently bemoan. Show me the state agency that will actually accomplish these things. (And don’t point to the one that has let the Stamford railroad station languish for a decade or the one that built the railroad to nowhere, or the one that wasted our time and money with a pointless, disavowed Transit Oriented District plan. )

      • Bart Shuldman

        Werner. Why does it have to be state money? Why not private money? Keep the state out of it and we could have a vibrant river

  30. Mike: And for this the rest of the Town’s people should suffer? Gone are the days when commercial traffic on the river was just as important. Remember, this is a pleasure craft. By your description it’s not evident his business customer s are suffering. During the reconstruction of the bridge some years ago I recall Jeff Northrup complained the bridge was lower than before prompting a construction delay to raise the structure. You can see how the road bed was raised up to meet the bridge surface.

    • Robbie Guimond

      Mr Picarello, the marinas north of the bridge are dead , no boats will berth there because of the bridge height which was lowered when the town and D.O.T replaced the bridge in the 90’s. The restaurants hardly have transient boats visiting , the private docks also are limited to the low boats like a sundeck as a t-top center console isn’t possible. Please consider people have substantial life long investments along this river . I have to preface my inquiry conversation with “re you aware of the bridge height issue” . not a great selling point. its time we address the mistake made in the 90’s , as well as create better traffic and truck control. So many possibility’s .

      • Bart Shuldman

        Why can a few people, with all due respect, who like erector sets, stop our river from being a commercial success? Stop this nonsense and let’s get a new Bridge with bike paths along the side and keep it tight so big trucks cannot go across, but make it higher so Westport can build a boating community, etc.

        • Robbie Guimond

          Its coming Bart ,weather we like it or not. the historic argument was crushed when they replaced the main spans in the 90’s. . the truck traffic can be address easily. The bridge will either be raised or it will swing.. some have said “long may it swing ” as long as they can keep it. im ok with either but dislike traffic like most so I hope a smart plan is put into play this time. unlike the 90’s mess we were stuck with.

  31. Larry Weisman

    I still don’t understand what makes the bridge « historic ». Did George Washington sleep on it? Was a revolutionary war battle fought over it? To my mind « historic » is not synonymous with « old ». If it were, we’d never be justified in replacing anything and we’d still have the Polo Grounds and Ebbet’s Field.

    • Werner Liepolt

      There are several explanatory documents on the HDC web page. http://www.westportct.gov/index.aspx?page=54

      George Washington predates the origin of the bridge by almost 70 years.

      The William F Cribari Bridge honors the memory of the beloved policeman who directed traffic there and the Italian American community that moved to Saugatuck to build the second stage of the NYNH RR.

      But you knew that and were just jerking everybody around…

    • As someone who has been under the bridge hundreds of times, you would freak if you saw the condition it was in at certain times over the past 10 years. I am talking rotted out metal support beams. I wish I could find the pictures I took years ago. I was docked next to the bridge for over 10 years and I was waiting for the day it would collapse. That said, I am a huge proponent of keeping the water way open to boaters, the bridge being able to open for boats, and keeping trucks off the bridge (but allowing fire trucks). A very challenging situation indeed but mostly a moot point – if the River will not be dredged boats will no longer be able to get to the bridge – that is why I think there needs to be focus given to the entire waterway and not just the bridge itself.

      • Robbie Guimond

        Josh , I for one feel the bridge is the culprit for dredging and the stagnant action of the town concerning the maintenance of the waterway. I know for sure the vfw and my boat basin can not be maintained until the river is addressed , if we some how afford to dredge ,the river will be more shallow then our boat basins and will fill with slit in a few short years installed of the normal 10/15 .

        • I heard rumors that some dredging was going to take place to allow them to get barges / machinery in place for the sewer replacement across the river. I also heard rumors that dredging would need to take place in order to do any real construction on the bridge to get equipment and barges there. So either way sounds like dredging is indeed a prerequisite and would benefit much more than the sewer or bridge project.

    • Jack Whittle

      Larry – You have never understood the value of “historic” resources (buildings, structures, features) for as long as I have known you, and given your comment (“did Washington sleep on it?”) it seems you never will – I do appreciate your consistency, however.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Jack. Can you help me understand why the bridge construction that is horribly rusted and falling apart is historic? Is the name of the Bridge historic?

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this Briggs’s is both ugly and useless. If we really think about it, it adds. I value to westport if replaced by a bridge that makes our river more valuable, allows bikes to cross without getting hit by a side mirror and also is narrow enough to limit trucks.

        • Werner Liepolt


          We have the efforts and resources of a whole commission offered for your enlightenment.

          • Robbie Guimond

            Might I ask what the your or the preservationist stance is concerning the replacement of the entire bridge other then the astetic truss in the 90’s project?

            • Morley Boyd

              Robbie, firstly thanks for your stated willingness to repay the town for all those openings. The replacement of the deck and the retention of the character defining pin-connected iron trusses was the result of the MOD signed off on by the Coast Guard in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office. That was the resolution which balanced the need to preserve the visible historic elements of the bridge with the modern load requirements. It’s a common approach. Check out the covered wooden bridge at Cornwall. Same thing.

              • Robbie Guimond

                Whats become obvious in this conversation amongst many valid concerns is
                1. The cost incurred to the town
                2. The possible loss of revenue to the merchants.
                3. The frustration of the community concerning traffic when this active bridge swings.

                These far out weight the look that the ornamental truss system provides, its obvious .

                Mr. Weismans suggestion that we look into a truck ban like Rowayton / Darien has successfully done is a possiable resolution to that serious issue.

                Barts suggestion of revitalizing the upriver area seems fiscally smart and it will promote maintenance of this valuable resource and quality of life for everyone.

                But what I haven’t heard is the safety benefits by providing access for marine patrol and fire. Just that alone is reason enough. is it going to take a loss of life before we realize the old look of this 1990 bridge isn’t worth it?

                Again im open to constructive dialogue with the hopes of a solution.
                Its time

                • There are safety benefits but I believe one of the FD’s boats and one of the PD’s boats can fit under the bridge even at high tide (but I could be wrong). The FD also has a smaller inflatable/rigid boat I believe that can be deployed pretty much anywhere.

                  • Elizabeth Thibault

                    The PD has a boat smaller than ours, which is a 19′ Boston Whaler. Even at the highest tide of the month, we can fit our center console under the bridge. The PD shouldn’t have any issue getting theirs under.

                    (BTW, if you’re driving over the bridge going towards Riverside and look down, the tide at it’s highest will cover the bottom of the 5 on the “speed limit” sign. If the water is below that, you can get a boat through.)

          • Bart Shuldman

            Werner. So this all about people’s opinion. People’s opinion that would stop the opportunity for Westport to develop the river and also keep a bridge that has past its uselfulness.

  32. I agree and wondered when someone would come up with this. As a rower I wondered 15 years ago if it was safe and frankly I avoid it like a would be tragedy

  33. Robbie Guimond

    So much for leaving the boat on anchor over nite to not have to request an opening upon return home.

  34. Jennifer Cleveland

    It’s pretty obvious what Robbie was trying to get away with and the jokes on him and his sinking family business -and as far as being an example to his 3 daughters that has nothing to do with this topic and nobody cares. Desperate people do desperate things and Robbie darling you are deperate and will fail miserably in your endevors. You are a joke and the whole community here in saugatuck is laughing at you-no one takes you or your failing greedy minded shannanigans seriously. You should be embarrassed to hold your head to the sky for trying to take away the heart of saugatuck. The town will never dredge the river move on and get a new business plan because your old one is not working.

    • Robbie Guimond

      Jeniffer, you sure don’t know me at all. but reading this post shows who you are. my guess is your a transplant living about 7 years here and really only care about being in-convinced.. after you calm down and are ready to try and make a plan about the bridge and our river let us know as we are all affected. Some more then others thou.

      • Morley Boyd

        Robbie, when you’re finished lecturing women about being too emotional I’m guessing you’re probably headed to town hall for that bridge meeting. Will you bring a check to pay us back for all those unnecessary openings you forced the town to cover?

        • Robbie Guimond

          Morley , im within the rules for openings, you should approach the federal government to adjust the times allowed if you don’t want the 30 year old bridge to open. Now it seems they are forced to close it for 10 hours at a time to patch up the underwater supports so it doesn’t hurt anyone. its time for a proper bridge for all to benefit . im sure it will look exactly like the rendering the D.O.T offered. and thats a copy of what is currently in use. See you this eve.

          • Morley Boyd

            The plan you reference allowed for access by 18 wheelers – at twice the cost of the repair option.

    • Jennifer, reveal yourself, what is your last name? Otherwise your posts should be deleted per Dan’s comment rules.

  35. Morley Boyd

    Is that your given name?

  36. Jennifer Cleveland

    Lol Your wrong yet again rob – I have lived on the saugie since 1980 / how long have you lived here?

  37. Mike Bennett

    Jennifer I think you forgot your meds today. Very nasty comment on a friendly blog. Are you related to Nancy Hunter by any chance. Why not try writing disagreements in a polite style. That’s the way we do it where I grew up. Oh yeah, 3rd generation Westporter, over 100 years.

  38. Jennifer Cleveland, your comments — some of which I deleted — are over the top. Please refrain from attacking individuals personally. You can share ideas, but keep personal attacks out of it. If you don’t, I’ll have to close this thread to comments. As it is, I think everyone has made his or her point known by now. I don’t think any more comments by those who have already weighed in are necessary. Thank you.

  39. Bart Shuldman

    Jennifer I hope you are not wishing someone bad times.

  40. So just as an update regarding the dredging, the US Core of Army Engineers has finished their sampling and issued a suitability report. Long story short: ‘Based on the results of 2017 biological testing, 2015 bulk sediment chemistry analysis, and the 2004 biological testing and subsequent risk assessment modeling, no significant adverse impacts were found for the proposed dredging of the Westport Harbor.’ Now for the bad news: ‘There are currently no Federal funds available for the design or construction of this project and we suggest the Town discuss the project with the CT Port Authority (Joe Salvatore), who in the past has been able to provide State funding for projects in CT that cannot obtain Federal funding.’ If the CT Port Authority cannot provide funds this will fall on Westport to decide whether to avail funds from the town for this project. I don’t attest to know the inner-workings of these projects among other towns in CT but perhaps funds can be set aside in next year’s state budget? If so, that would require us to lobby our local representatives to raise a bill.

    • Robbie Guimond

      Excellent news as I was under the impression it was failing sediment tests, its time to do something thats for sure.