Larry Weisman: State Can Prohibit Trucks From Cribari Bridge

Larry Weisman has followed the recent controversy over the William F. Cribari Bridge with interest.

The longtime Westporter reads “068880” comments too. One in particular drew his attention.

A preservation-minded reader referred to ‘’the statute’’ that controls the authority of the Connecticut Department of Transportation to prohibit truck traffic on a state highway.

Without quoting the statute, the commenter implied that it supports his argument for preservation as the only (or best) way to limit truck traffic on the bridge.

Weisman — an attorney — went to work. He found what he believes is the law: Section 14-298 of the Connecticut GeneraI Statutes.

Based on his reading — and in part on a successful campaign in Darien to ban trucks near I-95 — Weisman believes that the statute clearly allows the DOT to prohibit truck traffic under the same circumstances prevailing at the Cribari Bridge: “for the protection and safety of the public” whenever the route is “geographically located so that it could be utilized as a through truck route.”

Weisman found that among the physical characteristics to be assessed in determining whether the protection and safety of the public is at risk are: “road width and configuration, sight line restrictions, roadside character and development, number and character of intersecting streets and highways, traffic control devices, volume and character of traffic, and established speed limits.’’

I-95 is just out of this aerial view. According to Larry Weisman, Connecticut Department of Transportation regulations can prohibit through truck traffic on even a newly remodeled Cribari Bridge.

“Not only is there nothing here that would prevent prohibition of trucks on that portion of Route 136 which utilizes the bridge,” Weisman says, “but the bridge meets almost every criterion for such a prohibition and the statute effectively counters the argument that retaining our substandard bridge is the best (or only) way to address the issue.”

Click here for Connecticut DOT’s “Through Truck Prohibitions” page.

63 responses to “Larry Weisman: State Can Prohibit Trucks From Cribari Bridge

  1. Quite the big reveal – we have all seen signs that say “thru trucks prohibited” on certain roads like 136. And they do nothing to prevent trucks from driving on 136. Has attorney Weisman though this proposal through? Does stationing Westport police on Greens Farms Rd during the morning rush and stopping 18 wheelers from proceeding down Bridge St seem like a good idea?

    • Robbie Guimond

      Jack ,they do patrol it in Rowayton, after abit of time the message got out , I urge you to leave our bubble and sit at the rowayton market during rush hour and see if the trucks pass thru. They don’t.

      Im curious if this ban will become a priority once the d.o.t settles on its course of action.
      I really feel they will work with the idea now to be able to accomplish the best plan for all. Its a consession they will give.

      From another view I could argue that all that “spill over” passes our home now and we would prefer it to be dissipated over the new bridge and not just down riverside to rt 1, passing our front lawn and garden, but I won’t because we choose to live next to I95 so I understand its part of the package.

      The ban has been successful in Rowayton period.

      Thank you Mr. Weisman

      • Mr.Guimond,
        I know the Rowayton Market and why would a 18 wheeler be passing by it? If you go straight you go into all residential neighborhoods.

        • Robbie Guimond

          Jesse you are correct in its all “straight”, where you off abit is the left at the bank which is easily navigated by long tractor trailers and then the left at the dog park and then a scenic drive down to MLK drive. The route from exit 12 to mlk is clear sailing unlike here and a ban has worked very well. Again I drive commercial heavy equipment thru rowayton and darien often and wave with smile at the local enforcement that said im working in those areas and im allowed.

        • Addison Armstrong

          Jesse,
          I lived in Rowayton when that ban was issued and first enforced. It was directed at UPS and its depot on MLK in Norwalk, as its 18-wheelers used the designation of 136 as a state road to reach the depot from I-95. The ban was immediately effective.

      • Werner Liepolt

        The difference between Rowayton and Saugatuck is that CTDOT will use federal funds if they replace/ rehab the Bridge.
        UPS was using double tractor trailer trucks on a state road but no federal funding was involved.

        The Supreme Court ruled against us.

        • Robbie Guimond

          Interesting… but if you sit at that market and enjoy a cup of coffee you will not see a truck pass ,even if 95 stops dead truckers know to stay away. Local dump truck drivers cringe at the idea as its most likely a chat with the local officer.

          Its been very effective, thats clear.

          I think when they replace that bridge and after the pac meeting its clear they will , a concession would be a thru traffic ban.

          We will see how many locals like the idea of a few months of 8 hour closing just to weld up the ornamental truss system thats so loved and we will see how ugly it becomes after the repair, my guess is they will cause more damage and be force to remove it.

          One things clear… its not going to be fun at riverside and RT1.

          • DOT is evidently not welding reinforcement plates to the pin-connected iron trusses that were damaged by state plow operators over a decade ago. Instead, after preservationists raised concerns, it will now bolt said plates to the damaged sections so that the repairs are reversible.

            • Robbie Guimond

              nice…. so drill bunch of 1″ holes in it… very slow and still weakens it. then what? weld the holes back up? Still applying major heat to old steel , not even worth it.. imho. maybe reinforce the underwater structure thats compromised in several areas. Question…. have you looked at them at a mean low tide? and im being very serious hear , have you looked?

              • Agree, drilling holes in the iron trusses would be really lame. I’m hoping nothing that stupid will occur and instead they’ll opt to bookend the trusses with plates – and then thru bolt one plate to another. Kinda like a splint. As for the below deck conditions, I’ve totally checked them out in my canoe. After personally saving my own vintage house from the consequences of horrible tradecraft, even worse engineering, time, flash flooding, insects, etc. I tend to view physical challenges like the bridge with great interest and concern but not as much fear.

                • Robbie Guimond

                  I get it.. I think its basically a financial decision for them but the idea of total spill over passing my home isn’t appealing and that allows some though as to where its best directed and understanding of the east sides issue. I don’t know whats best, but I do know whatever they decide its time to fix the mistake they made in 91 . We have had to deal with it far too long.

  2. Valerie Seiling Jacobs

    Mr. Weisman misses a couple of critical points. First, the DOT has already admitted that if they build a new bridge they MUST build it to current code, which means wider/more lanes and a higher height. Thus, any new bridge (as opposed to a rehab of the existing bridge) would invite more WAZE and I-95 spillover traffic, which would create more congestion. Getting to and from the train station will be even more difficult than it is now. Traffic on Greens Farms Rd. will be even worse than it is now. The wait at the traffic light at Riverside and Bridge St., which is the real source of the problem, will be even longer than it is now. Second, regardless of any postings, a new bridge COULD still accommodate 18-wheelers and other large trucks, should their drivers decide to break the rules. Third, the DOT has shown no appetite for limiting truck traffic on the bridge. If anything, many suspect that DOT’s real motive in lobbying for a new bridge is to provide an alternate route during I-95 construction and emergencies. Finally, even if we somehow manage to convince DOT to restrict trucks, there would be nothing to prevent DOT from later changing its mind and revoking its determination. We have already seen how little DOT cares about Westport residents. We need to wake up and understand the unintended consequences of a new bridge.
    Valerie Seiling Jacobs
    Co-Chair, Save Westport Now

    • Well said!!!!

    • Robbie Guimond

      Valerie ,what is your stance on the “Spill over” that passes by my home now?
      Is it ok as we aren’t in the “high rent “district? or is it just the commuters we are worried about.

      Saugatuck is not just a parking lot !!!

      • Valerie Seiling Jacobs

        Robbie:
        Save Westport Now is concerned about ALL neighborhoods in Westport. Just ask the residents of Hiawatha Lane or Lincoln Street or North Avenue or the folks behind Trader Joe’s–or any other area in Town that is threatened with a project that has the potential to negatively affect the residents’ quality of life. And we believe that a new (and hence, bigger) bridge is a bad idea for Saugatuck because it will bring more traffic and make an already bad situation even worse. We agree that the traffic is terrible in Saugatuck–we just don’t want to see it get worse.
        Thanks,
        Valerie

        • Robbie Guimond

          Thanks for a response as so many never bother. But… are you suggesting this traffic is completely on us riverside ave folk? or should it be shared?

    • Valerie. What stops Waze traffic now? Please explain.

      Thanks.

      • Valerie Seiling Jacobs

        Bart:
        What limits the WAZE traffic now is the physical size of the bridge and the fact that the road and bridge are only one lane in each direction.Therefore, the road and bridge show up as a restricted or potentially congested area. If we widen or enlarge the bridge, the apps will reflect the new and better status and we are likely to get even more WAZE traffic.
        Valerie

        • Valerie. Can you prove what you think Waze does in restricting using the bridge?

          • Hi Bart –

            As you may be aware, I served on the Transit Oriented Development Steering Committee that was charged with studying the myriad issues related to the redevelopment of Saugatuck. Traffic and congestion was carefully considered, and was universally regarded as one of the most critical issues facing the town, and Saugatuck in particular.

            Also on the committee was Deputy Police Chief Sam Arciola who, along with Chief Foti Koskinas, provided the committee with their invaluable perspectives on traffic. Among other things, they were crystal clear in stating that the advent of way-finding technologies such as WAZE were responsible for redirecting substantial amounts of traffic through town as alternatives to the highways.

            While standard way-finding apps like WAZE and GoogleMaps are very popular among commercial and non-commercial drivers alike, truckers have their own apps that are tailored to their unique needs. The most popular among them is the “Trucker Path App” which highlights and rates truck stops, fuel prices, weigh stations, and more, including height restricted roadways. I suspect that these purpose-built apps used by professionals are largely responsible for trucks knowing to avoid detours through Saugatuck.

            Ian

        • I don’t think you are right and disagree that a new bridge will change anything in regards to Waze and traffic overflow as it stands today.

  3. A new bridge must be built to modern specifications, which means the bridge and the approaches will be wider and sight lines will be improved. This will remove any features that make the route unsuitable for truck traffic. Common sense says if the state pays $40 million to modernize the bridge for traffic, it will not impose restrictions on itself.

  4. I am not sure that the “wait at the traffic light at Riverside and Bridge St. … is the real source of the problem,” as Valerie Says, but she is right to observe that some of the area traffic lights are certainly a contributing factor to the problem. The lights in the area of the intersection of Riverside, Treadwell, and Sagautuck certainly create bottlenecks that contribute significantly to traffic on Riverside that affect traffic moments later at the Riverside and Bridge streets intersection. The area lights are almost always too long in all directions, and that they create and exacerbate bottlenecks in an area.

    I am afraid that whoever our traffic light guru is who determines these issues has really not been particularly thoughtful or strategic in considering the timing of the lights at Treadwell and Riverside. Perhaps flashing yellow lights instead would work? Perhaps arranging for the lights to turn more quickly? I hear people complain about the timing of the lights in the area all the time.

    We need to rethink that issue, or put together a committee of Westporters to review the issue, who can be more thoughtful and strategic about how and when lights should work in the area.

    • ConnDOT controls all lights on State Roads. An example of a Westport Traffic Controlled light is at Myrtle and Main Street. Bridge and Riverside is DOT.

  5. Possibly left out of Larry’s analysis is the fact that Greens Farms Road is no longer part of Route 136. It’s now fully a town owned road. A local “Truck Prohibition by Weight Class Ordinance” for Greens Farms Road would hit a wall for the simple reason that it would be a “de facto Thru Truck Ban” on what will be a “legitimate truck route” once the larger Saugatuck bridge is in place – and it will thus not be permitted by the state.

    • Robbie Guimond

      Westport pd is in support of the ban on town owned roads as well as the bridge, Do you think a ban could be a concession ?

  6. John A. Beckwith

    I am still not sure why a trucker would ever decide to get off 95 to cross this bridge even if it were legal and the bridge could bear the weight. It is hard to maneuver such a vehicle in that area and there is often traffic. Perhaps if their final destination was nearby?

    Is the US1 bridge capable of handling large trucks? I haven’t seen any on it but it looks like it can handle more weight.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      There is a major i-95 construction project on the horizon (in the planning for several years,) which is going to reroute traffic off of i-95, as well as cause massive traffic snarls. When deciding to sit in traffic or deal with winding roads, we’ve seen from recent truck snafus (like the truck hung up on the wall at Sunrise a couple of weeks ago,https://06880danwoog.com/2018/07/16/sunset-drama-on-sunrise/) truckers are clearly deciding to risk their luck on local surface roads.
      http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v3/comments/planned_i-95_bridge_project_raises_concerns/

      • William Strittmatter

        When the I-95 construction happens, traffic will inevitably spill over onto Westport roads whether anyone likes it or not. Cars will use whatever seems to be the most efficient route (including the Cribari Bridge) irrespective of whether it is replaced. In that context, a more efficient Cribari Bridge would benefit everyone, including Westporters as the Post Road is likely to be congested with trucks from Norwalk to Exit 18 connector.

        As for trucks, if Attorney Weisman (who does not appear to be clueless about such things) is correct, there is a way to ban them from using a new bridge. Enforcement might require clearer detour signage on I-95 when the construction is happening as well as periodic police presence and maybe some state police help in keeping trucks from exiting at 17. However, it is probably easier for trucks to use Rt 1 from Norwalk than trying to make the turn at the Post Road or wind through Saugatuck.

      • Robbie Guimond

        In 30 years I’ve only seen that once, that poor guy was lost.
        If you would indulge …what are your thoughts on the “spill over ” currently passing my front lawn and garden? are the folks on the east side worried about this and see the need to disperse this traffic evenly ? or its ok if its not in your hood?

    • Robbie Guimond

      John you are in the right mind set, as one of the only commercial truck drivers commenting I can tell you getting off I95 with a 53′ tractor trailer isn’t an option, even in a dump truck and tag trailer its less then desirable. The fear of trucks while understandable will be like the” traffic ” at the YMCA a non issue in day to day life. What will be an issue is the ability to move bikes, people , cars and marine traffic with ease if a smart plan is put in play.

  7. Werner Liepolt

    This is not a new idea. 80 commenters on the June 15, 2016 CTDOT PUBLIC INFORMATION AND PUBLIC SCOPING MEETING requested such a ban.

    You would think with such a strong commentary CTDOT would have used the two years to work out incorporating a truck ban into the project.

    Whether the state can or will do it seems moot. They haven’t.

    What the state has done is posted on the Cribari Bridge project website:
    http://www.ct.gov/dot/cwp/view.asp?a=3893&q=581086

  8. Stephen Szilagyi

    Larry has always had the Town of Westport first in his heart . The bridge has passed its sell by date. What could only be a disaster is a matter of time. Thanks Larry.

  9. A closed mind is immune to persuasion.
    To say ‘’no’’ is always the easier way because it requires nothing more of the naysayer, placing the entire burden of working toward a favorable outcome on those who say ‘’yes’’ – or even’’maybe’’.

    • This of course cuts both ways…..

    • William Strittmatter

      Perhaps Westport’s town officials and state legislators could weigh in and put some pressure on CDOT to reach the “right conclusion” on banning trucks? Seems to me it is worth trying rather than dismissing the idea out of hand.

      If that doesn’t work, the preservationists and other anti-traffic folks can then chain themselves to the bridge to keep the bulldozers away. Heck, I might even join them if the weather is good.

  10. The arguments that a truck (or car) will get off at Sherwood and get back on in Saugatuck, a mere 1 exit later and less than 3 miles, is ridiculous. It would take longer to do that than to stay on 95. When there’s traffic on 95, cars get off in Southport and clog up Post Rd–that’s how 95 traffic is avoided–and those of us who have to drive on Post Rd get screwed.

    That bridge needs to be replaced. Enough is enough. A better traffic flow with greater car capacity will make it easier for people to support the great shops and restaurants in Saugatuck.

    • Werner Liepolt

      http://www.cthousegop.com/piscopo/84230-2/

      By getting off at 19 and getting back on at 17 (or vice versa) truckers and everybody else will be able to avoid two of the proposed I95 tolls.

    • Werner Liepolt

      http://www.cthousegop.com/piscopo/84230-2/

      And the proposed tolls (2 in Westport!) will up the flow even more!

      • William Strittmatter

        No question tolls on cars will tend to push folks that are only going one or two exits off of I-95 and on to local roads across CT, not just Westport. More questionable whether that would be true for folks going longer distances and even if then, whether Exits 19 to 17 would be the choice of the two tolls to avoid (e.g. 13 to 10 would be better). But assuming tolls are put into place and you believe toll avoidance behavior via Westport is inevitable, wouldn’t a bridge that facilitated more efficient flow be beneficial to everyone, including Westporters?

        Toll avoidance via that route wouldn’t matter for trucks if they are banned – more likely to take the Post Road to 33 or maybe through to Norwalk would be a better bet I would think.

        In the end, isn’t this particular straw man an argument against tolls, not a better bridge?

  11. Mary Cookman Schmerker SHS '58

    I may have missed it but I don’t think anyone mentioned Eminent Domain. I remember from watching the hearing the last time that the state talked about the “Stakeholders” and what might happen with a new Bridge. In those hearings I got the distinct impression that the beautiful new bridge the state planned would require taking land to provide for more access to the larger bridge, which of course they insisted would be beautiful and in keeping with the look of the current bridge. Losing the historic bridge might also mean that some homeowners also loose their property. Just a thought to consider…..

    • Werner Liepolt

      Referencing the Cribari Bridge project website:
      http://www.ct.gov/dot/cwp/view.asp?a=3893&q=581086

      CTDOT has proposed exercising RIght of Way and eminent domain property acquisition: Slides 40-45 of the 2016 presentation) for “access”.

      “Access” in the case of the Norwalk Walk Bridge project means the taking of 17 properties including the Norwalk Maritime iMAX and building housing the Norwalk Rowing Club.

      The presentation two years showed a bridge with pedestrian and bicycle pathways on bot the up and down river sides. (The slide no longer appears!) This suggests to me that CTDOT is planning to excercise Right of Way/eminent domain on the 12 south side of Bridge Street properties.

      • Robbie Guimond

        do you think they are referring to the same path as the temp bridge?

        • Werner Liepolt

          No

          • Robbie Guimond

            any idea on where? or maybe a guess?

            • Werner Liepolt

              I don’t understand what you’re asking.

              http://www.ct.gov/dot/lib/dot/documents/dpublications/highway/cover.pdf

              The above is a link to the Ct highway design manual.

              • Robbie Guimond

                You are familiar with the temp bridge ,you sat in the meeting and they discussed a model plan for Both recon or replace, Are you suggesting the Parkes building is in jeopardy ? Or maybe the area on the east side with no structures and woods separating the homes from the marsh also used with the temp bridge..

                • Werner Liepolt

                  No. Though they may be. I am suggesting that the ROW of the twelve houses on the south side of Bridge St may be taken for a pedestrian/bike lane. It doesn’t make sense to build it into a bridge and then have no place to walk/ride on the other side.

                  • Robbie Guimond

                    While I don’t think eminent domain is fun stuff. I do like the idea of a connecting bike path from riverside to Compo, My family is just old enough to start this ride to the beach but the old bridge and bridge street is just too narrow for us. If it could be handled without any issue it might be something to look into.

                    Lots of new residents coming into the Saugatuck area ,the Gaults have done it and are continuing with great financial success . The railroad place project will bring lots of people without cars. They will be working in the city, living here and riding bikes to the beach and downtown. Imperial is the best road to Main Street as the heavy use on our beloved Riverside is a rough ride on a bike. IMHO

  12. Don L. Bergmann

    I have little interest in commenting about whether or not Larry Weissman “always had the Town of Westport first in his heart”. In this instance, I believe that Larry supports sufficient changes to the Cribari Bridge as would result in a failure to preserve the historic character and qualities of the Bridge and would allow trucks to pass over the bridge of a size in excess of those that can presently pass over the bridge. To me, that is the issue. Hence, the ability of the CT DOT to ban very large trucks is simply a fact having little relevance, at least to me.
    Don Bergmann

  13. Sad to see some dismiss and demean those seeking to preserve the Cribari Bridge as closed-minded or clinging to the past. It is especially so as some looking to replace the bridge with a contemporary span appear to be no less single-minded in their belief that a new bridge is the one, only, and best solution to the addressing the river-related transportation challenges in Saugatuck.

    In all of the discussion about the bridge, what strikes me as missing is a clear, complete, and accurate definition of the problem, or problems, with the current bridge. Coupled with that, also missing is an equally clear, complete and accurate review and validation of the assumptions concerning the range of possible options the town and state have for addressing and solving those problems.

    What are the problems with the current bridge?
    Are they real, significant, and important? And, to whom?
    Can they be reasonably addressed without replacing the bridge?
    What are the costs of repairing and maintaining the existing bridge?
    What are the benefits of the existing bridge?
    Are they significant and important? And, to whom?

    Whether we preserve and properly maintain this iconic and historic structure, which has provided safe passage to motorists, boaters, pedestrians, and cyclists for more than 100 years, or replace it with a contemporary span built to current regulatory specifications, Westport needs to have a clear understanding of who wins, who loses, who pays, and at what price – to the taxpayers, the neighborhoods, and the quality of our resident’s lives.

    Ian E. Warburg
    Co-Chair, Save Westport Now

  14. Robbie Guimond

    Ian , Great level headed post.. may I ask you a few questions as your associate didn’t really answer .

    #1 Do you believe that riverside ave. should bear all the “spill over” from the interstate?

    #2 Do you see more flooding in our future? super storms, global warming , sea levels etc.

    #3 Whats your stance on the 90’s replacement of the main span and supports and its historic value…. aside from the ornamental truss system.

    #4. Whats your opinion on the marine height restriction that came with that replacement in the 90’s.

    thanks in advance

    • Robbie –
      Below, speaking for Val and myself, please see the following:

      #1 Do you believe that riverside ave. should bear all the “spill over” from the interstate?

      No. I don’t think anyone has suggested that this be the case. And, it’s not the case now, as those of us who regularly travel along Greens Farms Road and Bridge Street during peak times of traffic can attest.

      #2 Do you see more flooding in our future? super storms, global warming , sea levels etc.
      Possibly.

      #3 Whats your stance on the 90’s replacement of the main span and supports and its historic value…. aside from the ornamental truss system.

      Personally, I like the restoration that was done to the bridge. As kids in the 60’s and 70’s, my friends and I often rode our bikes over it after school at Saugatuck Elementary, or later, on our way to and from Bedford Junior High. Must admit that I wax nostalgic every time I see and cross the bridge.

      As for the bridge’s historic status and value, I believe that this question has been litigated and settled, which is well documented.

      #4. Whats your opinion on the marine height restriction that came with that replacement in the 90’s.

      While I can understand why some, and you in particular, would prefer that the height had remained the same as it was before the bridge’s restoration, I don’t think the current height is a material issue, and it most certainly does not strike me as a $20 to 42 million problem for the taxpayers to solve.

      As I said yesterday, whether we preserve and properly maintain this iconic and historic structure, which has provided safe passage to motorists, boaters, pedestrians, and cyclists for more than 100 years, or replace it with a contemporary span built to current regulatory specifications, Westport needs to have a clear understanding of who wins, who loses, who pays, and at what price – to the taxpayers, the neighborhoods, and the quality of our resident’s lives.

      Hope that answers your questions. Feel free to reach out to me offline if you’d like to further discuss.

      Ian

      • Well said, Ian. If I could add anything to the issue of historic merit, I might say that this span is individually listed on National Register, is in its original setting, retains all its original wrought iron Pratt trusses and has been documented to be the oldest, active bridge of its type in the United States. In addition, it is thought by historians to be the oldest span of any type known to have been designed and built by the Union Bridge Company of New York, a pioneering firm which constructed some of the most technologically advanced bridges of the 19th century.

      • Robbie Guimond

        Thanks Ian, lots of interesting points. Some more detailed then others.

        At the end of the day tolls, traffic , apps , new residents ,Saugatuck center , Railroad Place project and the new restaurants will strain the current span more then was ever intended . yes it keeps the big big trucks at bay . Completely historic? Im not sure ..

        This next month of closings will be a regular thing for the next 50 years if its patched up at each turn and after each storm flooding , that type of repair alone will be 8 to10m and when done still vulnerable.

        I do respect your points and values .. thanks again

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