State: Here’s $40 Million For Cribari Bridge Rehab. Town: Not So Fast…

The state Department of Transportation today released a draft list of projects, under the 2021-24 Transportation Improvement Program.

Included is $20 million in fiscal 2023 — plus $20 million more in fiscal ’24 — for the “rehabilitation/replacement of state-town Bridge #01349, aka William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge.”

For those who haven’t followed the years-long saga, that’s the 133-year-old swing span over the Saugatuck River. It connects Riverside Avenue and Bridge Street.

One view of the William Cribari Bridge … (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

All projects on the list must be evaluated for air quality concerns. Because federal funding is also involved, national regulations — as well as state — must be adhered to.

The Cribari Bridge project may not necessarily be placed into the TIP. No decision is likely on the TIP until at least next summer.

First Selectman Jim Marpe said:

The town of Westport has not endorsed any plans for the Cribari Bridge, and awaits a conclusion to the CTDOT Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Evaluation.

As part of the EA/EIE, the DOT established a Project Advisory Committee, and met with this committee several times over the last year. DOT conducted a professional process, and I am confident they have taken away the community’s sentiments and concerns about the Cribari Bridge.

However, the town of Westport neither accepts nor rejects the CTDOT’s budgeted funding of $40 million over the 2 years until it is clear on the specific proposal for the Cribari Bridge, and the community agrees on which solution is the best for the town of Westport.

The Project Advisory Committee reviewed several alternatives for rehabilitation, including a no-build operation, and provided feedback to the DOT. No decision has been made.

The DOT continues to coordinate with other state and federal agencies, as well as various stakeholders, to consider specific concerns, such as impacts on historic properties.

… and another. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

The DOT is expected to issue a preliminary environmental document early next year. There will then be a public hearing and comment period, after which the DOT will make a recommendation of a preferred design alternative. Review by the Federal Highway Administration and state Office of Policy and Management will follow, with a decision announced later.

Marpe added:

My staff and I will stay abreast of the air quality and environmental findings for the Cribari Bridge rehabilitation or replacement options. Thereafter, we will follow the development of the TIP closely. I am committed to keeping the residents and businesses of Westport informed in a timely manner about this very important project.

13 responses to “State: Here’s $40 Million For Cribari Bridge Rehab. Town: Not So Fast…

  1. Mary Lou Cookman Schmerker

    It would seem to me that the words in the second paragraph are the ones to be diligent in watching: rehabilitation/replacement”.
    In my humble opinion every “replacement option” looked like a nightmare in the making. I do hope that everyone is alert and watchful.

  2. Bart Shuldman

    Nothing other than a major disappointment and letdown that Westports’s State Rep Steinberg who sits on CT’s transportation committee (does he head it?) cannot stop this project.

    Come on-you have to agree that he has NO influence in Hartford or this would end.

    • Dick Lowenstein

      Stop what project? Rehabilitation? Nothing has been decided yet and the First Selectman has also adopted a wait -and-see approach. Your animus toward Rep. Steinberg is unrelenting and demeans you.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Dick-how are you? Been a while since your last post against me. So let’s see what happened since:

        State sales taxes have gone up and increased on more and more products. Needed to balance a deficit again. Very regressive as it effects the lower income people the most.

        More businesses have decided to leave CT. Now headquarters of UTC TO Boston.

        Home prices in fairfield County continued to decline. Projected to continue to decline.

        State worker pension plan re-amortized again-increasing costs by billions onto the children and grandchildren in CT.

        Increase in state taxes on properties that sell at or above a lot of homes in westport. Wow-how could Steinberg vote against his constituents.

        Metro North trains running slower than 10-20 years ago. What service do you know that someone’s over a 10 or 20 year period? And Steinberg is on the transportation committee

        Only the facts Dick. I could continue but this is enough to show how bad he is.

    • Robbie Guimond

      Bart , they are moving forward methodically. They know this will be a “problem child” and some will obstruct so all bases must be covered. The meetings were interesting, lots of repeat performances from the usual obstructionist (remember the y debate ? smdh.. if only it was 15% larger) . From what I saw fire was pro replace ,PD also pro replace, boating advisory pro replace, downtown (quietly and indirectly) pro replace, some politicians also in favor of a right size thoughtful replacement and most importantly the bridge owner Pro replace . In these meetings the truck argument was crushed as D.O.T will return the posted height with any option to 13.8 . The historic concern could be mitigated with a repurpose of the esthetic truss but im sure more will come from them as they are crafty. The latest rendering looks similar to what is in place but its just a concept. This coming spring will be lively thats for sure so stay tuned.

  3. Carmine Picarello

    What, so 40,000 lb 18 wheelers can cross the Saugatuck? If we keep the bridge as it is we won’t be so much of an alternative to I-95.

    • I have always liked that bridge but how long can we “keep the bridge as it is”? Cars are getting bigger again, more guys are driving oversized pick-up trucks, and there’s more traffic. Sometime you’re going to need a new bridge.
      What I like about the Cribari Bridge is the surrounding structures known as “trusses.” This is a truss bridge. Without those it’s just a platform and not even original. A new bridge will be quite different and probably quite plain.

    • Robbie Guimond

      The D.O.T has made it VERY clear in these meetings that they will at a minimum repair the truss that holds the posted height to what I believe is 12.8 , thus returning the posted height back to the 13.8 as it was in the 1990 rehab. This will allow ALL legal loads to cross the bridge in ANY final decision weather no build ,rehab or replacement 13.6 trucks are coming . better get the greens farms no thru truck restriction passed locally now before its to late first selectman Marpe.

  4. Sharon Cribari-Saccary

    The Saugatuck River Bridge is a bridge in Connecticut carrying Route 136 over the Saugatuck River in Westport. The bridge, built in 1884, is the oldest surviving movable bridge in Connecticut and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2] The total length of the bridge is 87.5 metres (287 ft) with a deck width of 6.1 metres (20 ft) and a minimum vertical clearance of 2.1 metres (6.9 ft) above the river. The bridge carries an average of about 16,000 vehicles per day.[3] In 2007, the bridge was named the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge.[4]

    This bridge is well suited for the area of Saugatuck, Traffic is just an excuse to get rid of it. The traffic has tripled over the years, the Merritt Parkway was not built for this traffic today, They aren’t closing it. I95 is a nightmare they can’t even figure out how to help that situation. Leave the bridge as part of what Saugatuck is. Trucks for delivery to business only. Fix it and keep it as a true part of Saugatuck.

  5. Juliana Fulbright

    I agree with the person ahead of me, LEAVE IT ALONE! The stop light ahead would tell everybody that!