Category Archives: Transportation

Cribari Bridge Disappears

Werner Liepolt — an alert “06880 reader/William F. Cribari Bridge neighbor/member of the Connecticut Department of Transportation Project Advisory Committee for a new, rehabilitated or (long shot) basically unchanged span — read with interest yesterday’s post about $40 million in possible funding for the project.

Then he noted with equal interest that the DOT has pulled (“temporarily?” he wonders) the Cribari Bridge project from its web page. (Click here for the error message.)

However, he does have 2 public documents — sent to Advisory Committee members — showing plans for the “restored” bridge. Here they are. Click on, or hover over to enlarge:

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.

Mystery On The Merritt

Anyone who has visited the Westport Weston Family Y — or zoomed past Exit 41 on the Merritt Parkway — has seen the activity.

Every few days — because you don’t expect highway work to happen consistently — earth movers rumble to life.

They take mounds of dirt, and shift them from here to there. They do the same with boulders. They dig up some spots, flatten others. They look like they’re doing something.

But that sorry stretch of land, hemmed in by the road on one side and a forlorn fence on the other, also always looks the same. What exactly has been done there over the past few months?

Besides making the northbound entrance one of the scariest pieces of roadway in the history of transportation?

(Photo/David Meth)

“May Your Dreams Be Bigger Than Trader Joe’s Parking Lot”

As much as Westporters love Trader Joe’s, we hate its parking lot.

We’re happy to buy our organic Caesar salad kit, chile spiced dried mangoes and Ethiopian peaberry coffee. We love chatting with the chatty checkout folks in their Hawaiian shirts, as foot-tapping music plays gently in the background.

We despise backing out of the of the narrow spaces, praying we don’t hit another vehicle, pedestrian or shopping cart. We loathe the Post Road light, playing bumper cars with drivers racing through the red or leaving CVS. We congratulate ourselves every time we make it home, promptly rewarding ourselves with a quart of cookie butter ice cream.

Fortunately — actually, not — ours is not the only killer Trader Joe’s parking lot. In fact, our country seems to be filled with them.

How else to explain BuzzFeed’s recent listicle: “17 Jokes About Trader Joe’s Parking Lots That You’ll 100% Relate To.”

How’s this for schadenfreude? They come from across America.

  • Oh, so you’re into BDSM? Have you ever tried to find parking at Trader Joe’s on a Saturday afternoon?
  • The Job Interview. Employer: “What was your last job?” Applicant: “I designed parking lots for Trader Joe’s.” Employer: “Get out of my office!”
  • Daughter was being annoying so I threatened to make her practice driving in the  Trader Joe’s parking lot.
  • Trader Joe’s Real Estate Agent: “How’s the parking lot?” Landlord: “Terrible.” Trader Joe’s Real Estate Agent: “We’ll take it!”

  • My car insurance doesn’t cover Trader Joe’s parking lot.
  • I don’t wear my wedding ring when I go to Trader Joe’s, because I need every motherf***er in that parking lot to believe I got nothing to lose.
  • If you didn’t have a near-death experience in a parking lot, did you even go to Trader Joe’s?
  • “Every hour the universe expands by a billion miles in all directions.” Trader Joe’s will still find a way to make sure there’s no parking.
  • May your dreams always be bigger than a Trader Joe’s parking lot.

(Click here for the full BuzzFeed piece. Hat tip: Richard Fogel)

Pic Of The Day #841

Train station tower (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Pic Of The Day #837

Saugatuck River and the I-95 bridge, behind Saugatuck Sweets (Photo/Dan Woog)

Pic Of The Day #833

Not Italy. It’s the Westport train station. (Photo/Breno Donatti)

Ins And Outs Of Post Road Shopping Centers

On July 8, representatives from Connecticut’s Department of Transportation gave a public presentation on proposed work on the Post Road. Much of it involves the stretch between Fresh Market, and the Roseville/Hillspoint Road intersection.

The $5.3 million project (80% federally funded, 20% state funds) would include special left-turn-only lanes, as well as traffic signals, curbing, curb ramps, sidewalks and crosswalks.

Proposals for the Post Road near Fresh Market.

Alert “06880” reader Jennifer Johnson agrees with many of the ideas. However, she also has concerns. She wrote the DOT about several, including the need for a sidewalk on the south side from Mitchells to the fire station, and care of the cherry trees in front of the Volvo dealer.

However, what really caught my eye was this:

Eliminate multiple single-property curb cuts. There are an excessive number of curb cuts (17) on both sides of the road, from the traffic light at Fresh Market to the light at Roseville/Hillspoint Road.

The number of curb cuts is a source of danger to people regardless of how they travel (foot, car or bicycle). Now is the time to correct problems that have evolved as the Post Road developed.

There are many ways in and out of the shopping centers, and adjacent lots.

I never thought about that — but now that I have, it makes a lot of sense.

Why do we need so many entrances and exits at Fresh Market? Across the street, there are also a number of ways to get into and out of the Dunkin’ Donuts/UPS Store/Westport Hardware/Mumbai Times lot. (No one ever calls it by its official no-meaning name, Village Center.)

There are other spots in town too with multiple entrances and exits, like Stop & Shop, and Aux Delices/Carvel/Stiles.

There are only a couple of ways in and out of the CVS/Trader Joe’s clusterf***. But at the end of her email, Jennifer notes that this intersection appears to have been ignored by DOT.

Finally, she asks that one person be appointed to oversee and coordinate all of DOT’s Westport projects (there are others besides the Fresh Market initiative).

Great idea! I nominate Jennifer Johnson for the job.

(For full details of the project on the Westport town website, click here. Questions about the Post Road project can be sent to  the CT DOT project manager: Brian.Natwick@ct.com)

Proposed work at the Post Road/Roseville/Hillspoint intersection.

High (And Low) Watermarks

A few days ago, “06880” ran a photo of the traffic island at Turkey Hill North and the Post Road.

The sign said it was “Maintained by The Watermark at 3030 Park.” But it had been quite a while since any maintenance was done.

Someone in Bridgeport must be reading this blog. Here was the same scene yesterday evening:

Congratulations, and thanks, Watermark!

There’s only one problem: You may have forgotten you also maintain the traffic island at the other end of Turkey Hill North, at Long Lots.

Photo Challenge #237

If you spend a lot of time at the Saugatuck train station — and who doesn’t, given Metro-North’s we’ll-get-here-when-we-feel-like-it approach to scheduling? — you’re used to looking up and down the tracks.

And up and down, and all around, everywhere else.

So last week’s Photo Challenge was a snap. Steve Alter, Seth Braunstein, Yulee Aronson, Linda Amos, Fred Cantor, Seth Schachter, Andrew Colabella, Breno Donatti, John Kekkey, Michelle Scher Saunders, Tammy Barry, Jill Odice, Clark Thiemann, A. Darcy Sledge, Jonathan McClure and Amy Schneider all knew that Gene Borio’s photo showed a light fixture above the tracks.

There’s no back story. It’s just one of those familiar Westport scenes we’re all used to. Click here for the photo.

This week’s Photo Challenge is tougher than the last one. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Molly Alger)