Cribari Bridge Committee Moving Forward

It’s the holiday season — time for lights to shine on the William F. Cribari Bridge.

The bridge has been out of the spotlight recently. But plans to rehabilitate — or replace — the 133-year-old swing span are humming along.

The Cribari Bridge Project Advisory Committee meets tomorrow (Wednesday, November 28, 6:30 p.m.) at Town Hall.

On the agenda: 2 plans.

One shows a “rehabilitation” concept. It would add 4 feet to the present height of 21 feet, 3 inches.

A “replacement” plan shows a 38-foot high bridge. It would be widened too — from 21 feet to 32 feet.

A rendering of the replacement bridge.

The published agenda includes a rendering of a temporary span, to be used while the bridge is worked on. A similar structure was built during the last major renovation, 30 years ago.

A temporary span would be built just north of the current bridge.

25 responses to “Cribari Bridge Committee Moving Forward

  1. Matthew Mandell

    The meeting is at 6:30pm in the Town Hall Auditorium. Public is welcome to come and watch, but I believe cannot comment, as this is run by the DOT and not the town.

    I am a member of the committee. See you tomorrow.

  2. Why would residents of this town want a bridge that is 4 stories tall and permits tractor trailer trucks to drive through our neighborhoods?

  3. I am also a member of the committee and will be watching your comments for input.

  4. Thank you Matthew and Rindy. I’ll try to attend or watch it online.

  5. Michael London

    Something needs to be done to fix this bridge, but these plans show a lack of thinking about a masterplan to improve traffic flows into Westport. If we had the perfect bridge in this location, it does not fix the problem that all rush hours traffic from the south has to squeeze through the Saugatuck area and over this bridge. Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to keep the bridge’s capacity modest and move the northbound exit 17 to Hale Road to directly put traffic on Greens Farms Rd…where most end up anyway, without circling through a dense area like Saugatuck. Could be a simple straight exit, like northbound exit 18, and there appears to be space for it between the I-95 and the train tracks, so that nobody is overly burdened by it.

    • I’m guessing that the DOT is primarily looking for a redundancy to the I95 Saugatuck bridge. I would assume that is a strategic need for every highway bridge in every community.

      If you were to have a masterplan with unlimited flexibility, the best option would be to relocate the local bridge to under the highway bridge or next to the train bridge, moving through-traffic towards the edge Saugatuck center (and allowing gas pumps in at the Duck, boosting their revenue ;-).

  6. Chip Stephens SHS '73

    Wake up and let your voices, gestures, and feelings be heard Westport.
    The historical and character of the bridge is important and dear to many in town, but the height is the biggest factor in keeping 18 wheeled 45 foot trailers and other large commercial vehicles off that critical route 136 section. Opening the flood gates to I95 avoidence traffic would cripple many commuters travel as the work around would hit WAZE and Google maps for traffic, both passenger and commercial, at the most congested times of commute and crisis on 95. The bottleneck in the reinvented Saugatuck will stifle businesses, restaurants, and returning commuters. On top of that if, God forbid, the new tolls are placed where the old ones once stood then you have the old problem of toll avoidance traffic added in.
    Keep the bridge, possibly widen it a bit, but save the structure and keep height the same! Stop the state from telling Westporters how we should manage our town and way of life.

  7. I wonder what the minimum height requirements are for the big trucks? I’m also curious what DOT plans for runoff remediation that presently goes into the river.

  8. why don’t you just repair it and leave it alone. We don’t need more traffic in Saugatuck any more than there is now. And we certainly don’t need exit 17 changed to the Greens farms – hills point area…this bridge was named after my Uncle Bill and I and the Cribari family want it just the way it is and I’m sure that other residents that live in the Saugatuck area would confirm this. Just what we don’t need is 18 wheelers going through that part of town. Leave it alone. You all come in and change Westport for the better you think, but sometimes change isn’t all it cracks up to be. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AND I FOR ONE DON’T WANT ANYMORE CHANGES IN SAUATUCK….SOME PEOPLE WHO GREW UP THERE SUCH AS MYSELF WANT IT LEFT ALONE………

    • I agree with your first point, repair the bridge and leave it as is (or do a new one that has the same look and capacity). The history is important and should be honored. But that’s not how anything in the world works – we don’t and should not freeze things in time because that’s some people’s preferences. We should make good, forward looking changes to everything, using what we’ve learned from history, and based on actual human behaviors. And what we’ve learned from history is that adding lanes does not relieve traffic, it only adds capacity to fill the space that’s available until it reaches the same deterrent point it’s at now. A bigger bridge will only get people more quickly to the next bottleneck, which is likely to be one we aren’t willing to solve.

    • Arlene Avellanet

      ATA girl!

  9. Werner Liepolt

    The plans CTDOT will be presenting tomorrow evening at Town Hall are essentially the same plans CTDOT presented in June 2016. Many residents responded to the “scoping” process following the 2016 meeting. They raised many issues about the immediate and cumulative effects of CTDOT ‘s plan from health to safety to impact on natural resources, historic significance and the like.

    What’s disturbing to me is that CTDOT has addressed NONE of the scoping issues and is doggedly pushing the same plan.

    If you follow CTDOT’s handling of the Stamford RR parking garage and the Walk Bridge in Norwalk the apparent non-responsiveness is typical.

    I represent the Bridge Street National Historic District on the CTDOT Public Advisory Committee. When I agreed to serve I had high hopes CTDOT would heed our advice. Not so sure, now.

    • I’m pretty sure that CTDOT cares a lot less about local history, environment and the like than they do about the near-crisis level of traffic on 95 and it’s effect on the state’s economy. Not that the local issues are unimportant, it is is just that both sides seem to be playing a zero-sum game and are probably talking past each other. Saugatuck is but one small issue in their bigger concerns and I’d guess 95 traffic concerns will dominate the results (times, and neighborhoods change…).

      Why not propose completely re-locating the bridge downstream?

      • Werner Liepolt

        CTDOT is required to follow NEPA and other regulations that apply to historic districts and structures, protection of natural resources, etc. How much seriousness does CTDOT place on the citizen involvement they are required to invite?

    • I agree with you, Werner. I’ve been in touch with Geoff Steadman about the Norwalk issues. Any ideas of how we can get DOT to be responsive?

  10. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    Leave the Bridge alone! The proposed height is a nightmare. The possibility of big rigs driving though Saugatuck and Greens Farms is unthinkable. The loss of land is a travesty and the ecological impact to the area is irresponsible. More concrete equals less area for drainage. Westport suffered from flooding during the recent rain storms that were not hurricanes. Drainage must be considered.The tax payers pay the salaries of those who are imposing their plans on the residents with out considering the impact of the lives of those who “employ” them. Yes, this bridge is sentimental and beautiful to many of us but it also provides a very valuable service to the whole community. It is a “traffic quieter”. Please consider the Stake Holders whose lives will be impacted by the decisions.

  11. Tear this thing down. Having a smaller bridge is not going to reduce traffic. Tractor trailers will still get off in Westport whenever there’s a backup on 95. Instead of just traveling down Greens Farms Rd and back on the highway they are forced to travel down Saugatuck, Riverside, Post Road for several miles and then onto the Sherwood Island Connector. Now tell me, which one of those options is going to add to traffic? It is also unusable by all emergency services during the rush hour build up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a police car attempt to turn onto the bridge and have to go the long way around town, adding minutes to their response time. The obsession with this ugly, rusted, outdated and deficient bridge is mind boggling.

  12. Bill Boyd... Staples 66

    Adding more capacity to a traffic detour won’t eliminate traffic congestion it will encourage and increase it. A modern bridge will encourage more traffic and result in a much bigger mess.

  13. I like the idea of a wider bridge. The current bridge it too narrow.

  14. David J. Loffredo

    Ditch the bridge and dig a tunnel….

  15. Feel for the guy who just bought, tore down and is rebuilding the little house at East end of bridge…did he not know how vulnerable is his project?

  16. I live just off the East end of the Bridge (Imperial Avenue) and my office is on Greens Farms Road. Southbound 95 traffic is already using GFR and Bridge St as an alternative every single day. It is not uncommon for the backup of idling cars to stretch a mile from the Bridge. Making the bridge available to additional traffic (e.g. 18 wheelers) is untenable. Congestion and pollution are just the beginning. Think of the impact on Westporters going to and from the station. Think of the entrepreneurs who have developed fine shops and restaurants in Saugatuck.

    Saugatuck is already a sea of pavement. Having served on the Saugatuck Transit Oriented Design committee, and having been a Saugatuck resident for 17 years – during most of which I comuted to the city – I believe that I have a clear understanding of these issues. I, for one, believe that we cannot allow the State to bulldoze their way through the town in the name of allieviating I95 traffic. The local implications are too large.

    • What was the Saugatuck Transit Oriented Design committee’s analysis of the cause of the traffic congestion and to deal with it? – Chris Woods

  17. Seems like shakey legs to stand on making a case for rehab when it looks so shabby these days. Plus the fact that the Xmas lights are left strung up all year round, doesn’t help the cause that the historical character matters much to many Westporters.