[OPINION] Traffic Cop Needed At Cribari Bridge

For the past 8 years, Rick Rosencrans has commuted to work from I-95 Exit 17 in Westport, to Exit 7 in Stamford. Recently — as the pandemic has eased, and the drive has gotten longer — he’s had time to think. Rick writes:

For 8 years I have watched traffic patterns on I-95 ebb and flow, often based on the day of the week, time of day, construction projects and accidents.

During the early months of COVID, and into this past winter, traffic was light. My pre-COVID 40-minute commute turned into a 15 to 20-minute ride, door to door. Yet while the shorter commute was nice, I’m not selfish enough to think the trade-off was worth it.

Fast forward to late winter and this spring. While many offices and businesses between Westport and New York still work with limited staff, traffic seems to have returned to pre-pandemic levels.

I assume that since the train station parking lots are hardly used, many of the people who have returned to work now commute by car instead of train.

On my daily Stamford to Westport return trip — particularly on Friday afternoons — traffic seems worse than ever. Due to Waze, Google Maps and natural instincts, many drivers get off at Exit 17, head up Charles Street, turn left on Riverside Avenue at Tutti’s, make a right on Bridge Street, and continue on to Greens Farms Road towards Exit 18 and points north.

This backs cars all the way up on to the exit ramp, and often on to the right lane of northbound 95.  It can take 25 minutes to get from the ramp to the Cribari Bridge in Saugatuck, a distance of about 1 mile. 

Saugatuck, on a rare day with little traffic. It often backs up on Riverside Avenue, from Exit 17 to the Cribari Bridge.

The streets of Saugatuck were not meant for this volume of traffic. But one impediment makes the situation even worse.

With no “No Right on Red” sign by Dunkin Donuts, bridge-bound cars idle in front of the firehouse and Saugatuck Sweets, while traffic flows from the bridge into Saugatuck.

I have no problem with the sign, during normal hours. But what I have observed over the years is that a  traffic officer at the Riverside Avenue/Bridge Street intersection, safely waving drivers to make a right on red, has a significant effect on the overall traffic flow.

I would guess that an additional 15 to 20 cars could be waved around the corner of Bridge Square during each cycle of lights. That would also allow for adjustment in the timing of the lights so that cars coming from the other direction on Riverside Avenue have more time allotted to make a left on to the bridge.

The William F. Cribari Bridge. A police officer could wave more cars onto it, during rush hour.

We need a traffic officer at the intersection on weekday afternoons, and perhaps at certain weekend times when I-95 is backed up.   

Once upon a time, there WAS a traffic officer — every day — at that intersection. He was visible, efficient, and very, very theatrical.

His name was William F. Cribari. And yes, he’s the guy they named the Bridge Street bridge after. 

Bill Cribari, at work (and play). (Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

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Meanwhile, “06880” reader Gary Shure has a solution for another traffic chokepoint, a couple of miles east:

During rush hour there is often a long backup at the northbound Exit 18 ramp (Sherwood Island connector). It goes down the whole ramp, continuing onto the right lane of the highway itself.

It would be so easy to fix. Just put a traffic light there, timed to be green 80% of the time for people getting off 95.

Right now, the 4-way stop sign puts everyone getting off the highway on an equal footing with the occasional perpendicular vehicle on the connector.

Furthermore, with a light you could have 2 useful lanes on the ramp: the left lane (only for left hand turns), and the right lane (for left turns, and going right).

Exit 18, at the Sherwood Island Connector.

24 responses to “[OPINION] Traffic Cop Needed At Cribari Bridge

  1. Excellent accurate description of the situation as it exists now and two very good problem solving solutions.
    Hopefully the Town of Westport will move quickly to s and place a resource officer at the corner as the light controller device already exists and its great training for police traffic control.
    As for the addition of the light at Sherwoid connector on and offramps its also a good solution but getting the Connecticut DOT to do their studies and planning excersises will problably see our great grand children making the commute before that happens.

    The i 95 disaster commutes have a possible quicker solution in the short term.
    As I have mentioned before I moved from Southern California to Westport 8 years ago and bad commutes were born and raised in SoCal.
    The great aide and helpful change that was added to the interstates there was METERED ON RAMPS at key problem locations where traffic mergings slowed and would nearly stop traffic on the highway. At first most all commuters in California thought this was a crazy idea and protested openly. However after this system was simply installed at key problem areas and really helped to make the commutes better attitudes quickly changed. IT WORKS! Try and remove this system today and riots would insue!
    There are key locations along I 95 where this system would greatly help. At these on ramp points in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Westport, Norwalk, Darien and Stamford this system would work wonders.
    Hope one of our local and state representatives will take this solution to the DOT and push for a start to a simple system such as this to help the GIANT problem on I 95. IT WORKS!

  2. Janine Scotti

    I’ve had multiple conversations over the years about that spot even called recently to say the traffic was at its normal levels and we need to resume officers there even earlier than you would typically think because of the Rowing Club traffic. The Treadwell light at Riverside can cause almost gridlock across the road. I suggested two officers there who communicate with each other the officers make a huge difference in the flow of traffic.

    • As someone who has seen tons of traffic agents directing traffic in NYC, they seem to cause more accidents and hold up traffic, more than ease traffic and keep things safer. Its 2021, technology should be able to tackle this problem. The no turn on red should probably be removed but I am curious for the reason it exists.

  3. John Terpening

    A novel solution to the traffic problem………no further real estate development of any type neither residential, commercial or light industrial and guess what? No increased traffic burden until a completely new and probably not yet invented system of using electricity and mobilized casket like containers to transport individuals from one location to another is developed. Having lived in and around Westport for the last sixty years I have watched this problem grow. I find it interesting that now the “local” folks are starting to become transportation consultants, making bigger and better bandaids while overlooking the primary problem. As a suggestion, stay home, ride a bike, walk, or row a boat to get what you need. Welcome to becoming another “city” on the coast.

  4. Sharon Cribari

    Bill Cribari, better known as Crobar, or for me Dad loved that job, he was there directing traffic every day keeping it moving with a smile on his face. He really enjoyed the interaction with people. I agree they need a traffic officer at that post and a few other places. The light at the four way Riverside to Wilton Road could use a delayed light either coming from Riverside to take a right or from Wilton Road to take a left. It’s always a mess there.

  5. Bill Strittmatter

    Could use a traffic officer at North Avenue and Cross Highway in the afternoon as well. Don’t recall it ever being quite as backed up as it was when I went through last week.

  6. I all I am on rtm transit please Email the rtm transit committee and foti our police chief and jim Marpe please email us ASAP sal liccione rtm district 9 member

  7. Michael Calise

    157 units at Davenport good for Saugatuck and good for Westport. WHOA!!!!

  8. Linda Montecalvo

    This remark is unrelated to a Westport specific issue but I will none the less explain. The lack of State Police on I95 in the past two years is worrisome. I am on I95 5-6 times a day and every day, I mean every day I see large trucks driving in the far left lane during every trip – never fails. Not only that but they are often going as fast as the traffic will allow – at times I’ve witnessed up to 80 mph. No one is up there to address this problem nor the constant tailgating at high speeds. It’s not a matter of personal preference – when people drive like this innocent people get hurt – no matter how safe I try to keep myself the congestion tells me I could get caught up in a very bad adjacent accident. There are no quick solutions to the I95 problem but the fact that the State Police have abandoned taxpayers while the taxpayers are actually still paying them – why is is allowed to happen? When driving more north in the State you see State Police everywhere.

    • That’s because the state police are understaffed by about 500 troopers. They have 2 troopers from Greenwich to Westport on 95 and they are fairly busy just handling accidents. They don’t have time for traffic enforcement. Police staffing levels in this state are significantly down and expect the trend to continue

    • Wait until you have a 18 wheeler pass you on the LEFT shoulder while you are in the LEFT lane, moving with the flow of traffic. The truckers are out of control. Speeding, cutting off others, parking at off-ramps.

      • And when will CT add a lane of traffic to ease congestion? Or let people travel in the shoulder during peak times, like other states?

  9. Isn’t Jon Steinberg, our State rep on the state transportation committee? Since some state roads are involved in these discussions, does the state of CT have to get involved, or can each town self determine traffic flow with police, at will??

  10. Priscilla Hawk

    I agree with all the responses. Dear Town – lets start with the easiest one first – like now – and station a policeman to direct traffic at the light going over and towards the Bridge. We need that help now!

  11. Donald Bergmann

    Like John, I have long urged that our zoning regulations preclude any new or expanded commercial development unless it is show that the development will not result in any increase in traffic. John has suggested the same for residential. Right now the traffic tests are far more lenient than what I suggest.
    Don Bergmann

  12. There used to be a traffic cop at the corner of Cribari Bridge years ago during rush hours. It made a big difference.

    • Yep. That’s why it’s called the Cribari Bridge — it’s named for that traffic cop. And there are photos of him in the story!

      • Dan Thank you for this story, not because of the all the problems and controversies over this one bridge but because now I know why a bridge has a name. It’s all about what that makes the bridge a monument to a special human being who tried to make Westport better every day and enjoyed doing it. Thanks for the pictures that make the bridge human. When I first moved to Westport 25 years ago I would wait all year for it to be lit up for the holidays and thanks to you I learned it was the ” Al’s angels” that made sure it happened. What makes you love a town or a bridge…it’s people. So, the take away for me is that what makes a town feel like home are its special citizens, I’m talk’in about you! Thank You.

  13. Bill Strittmatter

    Seems like a small thing/cost to add someone, maybe even part time, to facilitate traffic flows in town. Too bad the driving lobby isn’t as strong as the Board of Ed lobby or this would have been taken care long ago.

  14. Lisa A. Taylor

    I completely agree with Sharon Cribari and ALL the intersections she named.
    So tired of seeing drivers trying to beat the system at US1 & Rt. 33 by being in the left hand lane, only to oops, have to move over to the right to continue on the Post Road. Be respectful of the traffic signs – they are posted to keep everyone moving in a safe & equal manner.

  15. Old enough to remember the elegant moves of Officer Cribari. His efficiency and joy in the work were beautiful to watch. He kept things moving with grace!

  16. Alan Schanzer

    Another easy way to ease the flow would be to add a right turn lane from Riverside Ave onto 136 in front of Tutti’s. That would alleviate the back up to the intersection at Bridge Street.

    Additionally, there is a left turn only sign coming from Compo Road South on to Bridge Street but no left turn signal so that intersection gets loaded with gridlock. There should be a left turn signal. It is dangerous!

  17. Amanda Gelber

    lets NOT forget about the light at wilton road and Post Rd East. The traffic is dreadful! All they need is a turn arrow from wilton on to post road east and all will be solved!

  18. Besides the Traffic resource officer at the Crebari intersection most all the problem intersections and roadways being discussed and lamented here are all State of Connecticut numered highways! That is the biggest problem in itself. To many roads in Connecticut carry state highway designations!
    Connecticut is so far upside down financially it cannot possibly dig itself out of this hole to address and fix all these roadway and highway issues! Remember this number, 95 Billion in unfunded pension liability!!
    Unless the federal government really starts fairly distributing infrastrucure monies and Connecticut gets a fair distribution it will never be able to spend what it needs just to affect necessary fixes to the Interstates, highways, roadways and bridges in Connecticut.
    Sad to say but it is going to get far worse before it might ever get better.
    As for the big rig truck problems on I95. They need to bevreigned in in the name of safety. The state needs to put more troopers on I95 and get them cited and stopped from their dangerous driving and actions we should also be tolling the out of state trucks and using those monies to repair the damage they do to the interstate and the cost of additional state trooper enforcement. Lamont talked about this but he just does not havethe HUEVOS to make it happen! He will just let these problems sit in a pot and simmer until the platitudes of the next Gubernatorial election. Sleep Tight, Your Elected Officials Are Awake Tonight?!

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