Tag Archives: Kings Highway North bridge

Roundup: Kings Highway Bridge, Masks, Sip & Swap …

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First the bad news: The Kings Highway North project (connecting Main Street and Canal Street) will not be paved until next spring.

Now the good news: It won’t be closed that long.

Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich says his department (and the rest of the country) has run into supply chain issues. As soon as some piping comes in, they’ll finish the water line. The road will reopen then.

The reason final paving must wait until 2022 is to let all the utility work settle.

Paving of the lower portion of Main Street — where utilities are also going in — may wait until spring too. Ratkiewich said it’s possible to do it in November, but he does not want to disrupt prime shopping season.

Bottom line: All roads will be open, hopefully soon. They just won’t be just-paved smooth.

Once upon a time, traffic flowed easily on Kings Highway North. (Photo courtesy of Google Street View)

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The latest COVID advice from the CDC: Even if you’re vaccinated, you should wear masks indoors if you live in a place with “substantial” or high virus transmission.

The CDC classifies a community as having “substantial transmission” if there are 50 to 99 weekly cases per 100,000 residents or if the positivity rate is between 8.0 and 9.9%.

NPR has a handy tool that lists risks in every US county. As of yesterday, Fairfield County was “moderate” — in other words, below the “substantial” threshold.

Not in Fairfield County? Click here to see how your county is doing.

COVID transmission rates across the US.

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Longtime Westporter Charlene Zeiberg has organized a great women’s clothing “sip and swap” for next Tuesday (August 3, 6 p.m., Unitarian Church parking lot).

There’s a lot going on. It’s a chance to see old friends and meet new ones while trading — not buying! — clothing and accessories. There are adult beverages and nibbles. And voluntary charitable cash donations to the Domestic Violence Crisis Center of Connecticut will be gratefully accepted. Any leftover items will be donated to charities.

Swapper alert: This is not an unload-your-junk tag sale. It’s for high-end, designer-type goods. Each participant must bring at least 10 items. And it’s ladies apparel only — not men’s or children’s. (Of course, all are welcome to attend.)

The deadline to register is this Friday night. Click here for details.

Get rid of your slightly worn gowns on August 3.

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Adam Kaplan is taking the big leap.

The 2008 Staples High School graduate has been cast in Fox’s “dance dramedy “The Big Leap.”

The show-within-a-show “takes viewers on a journey of self-acceptance, body-positivity and empowerment at any age.” It’s described as “a modern tale about second chances, chasing your dreams and taking back what’s yours.”

The show revolves around a group of diverse, down-on-their-luck characters attempting to change their lives by participating in a potentially life-ruining reality dance show that builds to a live production of Swan Lake.

Kaplan’s role is Simon Lovewell. He is a talented dancer, has confidence to spare, and is wildly ambitious. He’s “comfortable in his queerness and likes to challenge expectations about gender in both his attitude and appearance.”

“The Big Leap” is in production in Chicago. It premieres on Fox on September 20 (9 p.m.). Click here for more details.

Kaplan recently wrapped a supporting role in “Mr. Russo,” directed by Ray Romano. He also appeared in a lead role in A Bronx Tale on Broadway opposite Chazz Palminteri, directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks.

Adam Kaplan

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Earlier this week, “06880” noted Melissa Shapiro’s upcoming appearance (Saturday) on “Good Morning America.”

You can also see the Westport veterinarian Melissa Shapiro live. Next Tuesday (August 3, 7 p.m., Zoom) she’ll discuss her book “Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family. It’s the story of how fostering the unwanted dog transformed her, her family, and countless admirers.

Piglet (and Melissa) have been featured in People Magazine, and on NBC Nightly News, CNN, CBS News and more. Click here to see our neighbor (virtually). The event is sponsored by the Westport Library; autographed copies of the book are available here.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” orchids come courtesy of Molly Alger, on Whitney Street:

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And finally … if you’ve followed these “And finally …” videos for any amount of time, you know that Bruce Springsteen is one of my all-time favorite rockers.

His wife, Patti Scialfa, is no slouch herself.

She joins Bruce every night for a few songs at his Broadway show. From my 2nd-row pre-pandemic seat*, it was a riveting performance.

Today is Patti Scialfa’s 68th birthday. Hope she has a brilliant one.

Eat your heart out

 

Roundup: Hazardous Waste, Health & Wellness, Kings Highway Bridge …

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The Westport Weston Family YMCA gets a nice shoutout in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Joanne Kaufman — who with her husband has “perched temporarily” in Fairfield County since fleeing Manhattan during COVID — writes about her return to swimming, at our Y.

The piece is called “Dear Locker Room, You Have No Idea How Much I’ve Missed You.” I thought it would be about the joys of the pool, even in a pandemic — my daily swims at the Y have kept me both physically and mentally fit since it reopened last June — but it is mostly about the camaraderie of the locker room.

Click here to read. (Hat tip: Scott Smith)

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Don’t waste a moment!

Westport’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Day is Saturday, April 24 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,) at a new site: the Greens Farm train station.

The free program is open to residents of Westport, Wilton, Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.

These are some of the items that may be hanging around your home:

Garage: Paints, gasoline, kerosene, mineral spirits, spray paint, paint strippers, paint thinners, solvents, stains, turpentine, varnishes, wood preservatives, degreasers, etc.

Garden shed: Fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, etc.

General household:  Bleach, charcoal lighter, cleaning chemicals, drain cleaners, flammable liquids, mercury thermometers, moth balls, pet flea shampoos, photo chemicals, rug shampoos, spot removers, art supplies and paints, etc.

The following items are NOT acceptable: Propane tanks, ammunition, flares, explosives, commercial hazardous waste.

Before bringing hazardous household items to the collection site:

  • Make sure items are clearly labeled. Never mix chemicals!
  • Keep products in their original labeled container.
  • Place leaky containers in clear plastic bags.
  • Tighten lids of all containers, and pack items in sturdy cardboard boxes lined with newspaper.
  • Put boxes in the trunk or in back of the vehicle, away from passengers.
  • Leave pets and children home.
  • Keep your windows open. Drive directly to the collection site.
  • Do not smoke or eat while handling hazardous materials.
  • Antifreeze, motor oil, batteries of any type, fluorescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs and electronics can also be recycled at the transfer station on the Sherwood Island Connector, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.

Put all household hazardous waste in the trunk or rear of vehicles. Only fuel containers will be returned to residents.

Questions> Call the Public Works Department (203-341-1793), or click here.

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It seems like the only miserable thing that’s dragged on longer than COVID is the replacement project for the Kings Highway North bridge, by Canal Street.

Public works director Pete Ratkiewich reported yesterday:

“The contractor has just finished setting the first 3 of 6 bridge sections today in the pouring rain. The last 3 will be set Friday.

“The schedule has not changed, with completion expected by the end of June. Once the precast sections are in, they will be working on putting the bridge back together and finishing the project as quickly as possible.”

From his lips to …

Once upon a time, traffic flowed easily on Kings Highway North.

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Speaking of a long 13 months: Westporters are ready to get back to the fitness routine.

So the timing is great for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association’s Fitness & Health Day. It’s set for Saturday, May 1 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

The event takes place all along Main Street, but many more businesses and organizations are involved.

Fleet Feet in Sconset Square kicks things off, hosting a 5K run throughout downtown. Click here to register (spots are limited).

Westport’s leading studios and clubs — including JoyRide, Pure Barre, Row House, Elliptica, Intensity, Physique57, Club Pilates, Saugatuck Rowing Club, The Dance Collective, Stretch Lab, Kaia Yoga and the Westport Weston Family YMCA — will organize fun (and challenging) classes on main Street.

Walk-ups are not permitted for classes. To register, contact each studio directly. Observers are welcome, of course!

Other health and wellness folks will have a presence too: Franny’s Farmacy, RESTORE Cryo, Cparkly Soul, Wisdom and Youth MedSpa, Embrace Orthodontics, New England Hemp Farm, TAP Strength Lab and Organic Krush.

Other sponsors include Andersen Renewal. Wildflower Land Management, Manna Toast and David Adam Realty.

Working out at last year’s Fitness & Health Day.

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On Tuesday, “06880” reported that Bank of America’s Post Road East branch next to Starbucks — across from Carvel — is now closed permanently.

A mailing with the news directed customers to the downtown branch, next to Design Within Reach. There was no work about the fate of BOA’s 3rd Westport office, on the Southport line.

Now there is. A second mailing yesterday notified customers that that branch — at 1815 Post Road East — has also closed for good.

Banks are supposed to be prudent with their money. I have no idea how much it cost to send 2 separate mailings to all Westport customers.

But perhaps that kind of decision is part of the reason Bank of America just reduced its presence here by two-thirds. (Hat tip: John Karrel)

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Why did the gull cross the Old Mill parking lot?

To get to the other side? Or some other reason?

Who knows? But whatever the reason, it makes for a cool photo.

(Photo/Teri Klein)

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And finally … Today in 1943, Albert Hofmann accidentally discovered the hallucinogenic effects of the research drug LSD.

9 Stone Bridges

Alert  — and history-minded — “06880” reader Wendy Crowther writes:

It’s hard for us to imagine today the difficult problem that rivers, streams and brooks posed for Westport’s early settlers and travelers.

At first, traversing even small tributaries required getting wet. Later, rudimentary crossings were built so that carriages and wagons could manage the steep approaches, rocky bottoms, and wetland mud without tipping over, snapping axles, or becoming mired.

These overpasses became more problematic in the early 20th century, when the automobile came into fashion. Smoother transitions across Westport’s many brooks — most notably Willow, Muddy and Deadman’s — were needed.

Which brings us to Westport’s early stone bridges.

Around 1920, a series of 19 Craftsman-style stone bridges were built throughout town. Nearly a century later, 9 remain.

That’s a remarkable number considering they’ve seen nearly 100 years of use. They’ve survived hurricanes and “100-year storms,” and endured the collisions of decades of distracted drivers.

One of Westport’s 9 stone bridges, this carries Greens Farms Road traffic over Muddy Brook (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

Today we pass over these bridges daily. Yet few of us notice their rustic presence. Their stone walls (“parapets,” in bridge lingo) were designed to convey the sense of a park-like setting — an aesthetic popular at the time.

Most blend seamlessly into the roadside landscape, often appearing to be mere continuations of Westport’s many fieldstone walls. They are simple, folkloric, and historically important.

And they are at risk.

The Cross Highway bridge. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

One of them in particular — on Kings Highway North — has a target on its back.  The town has hired a firm to design its replacement.

This concerns me and my fellow Westport Preservation Alliance colleagues Morley Boyd and Helen Garten. We are pushing back against the replacement plan favored by the town’s Public Works Department.

We’ve also made a pitch to the town to collectively nominate all 9 bridges for listing on the National Register.

While we would love to see all 9 bridges thematically nominated, we’re especially worried about the Kings Highway North Bridge over Willow Brook.

It matches the style of the other 8 bridges. More importantly, we believe it may have been built atop even older stone abutments. It’s possible that its enormous foundation stones may date back to the original King’s Highway, built in 1673 to carry mail from New York to Boston. Losing this bridge to a modern replacement would be tragic, especially if portions date back to pre-Revolutionary times.

Large stones in the abutments beneath the Kings Highway North Bridge may be remnants of a much earlier bridge. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

We’re also concerned that the other 8 bridges will confront a similar replacement plan “down the road.” That’s why we’ve suggested the town pursue a National Register designation.  This will help protect the bridges — and may also make them eligible for rehabilitation grants.

To become eligible for a National Register listing, the history of these structures would be fully researched. State Historic Preservation Grants are available to conduct this work.

We feel that these very special bridges possess the integrity of location, design, setting, materials and workmanship to qualify for this distinguished honor.

On a more visceral level, the preservation of these bridges will allow us to appreciate the human craftsmanship that went into building them.  By picturing the crew of local men who lifted each stone by hand and mortared them in place, we’ll not just notice these bridges — we will feel them.

Evergreen Avenue (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

The locations of 4 of the 9 bridges have been identified above.  Do “06880” readers know where the other 5 are? See if you can find them as you drive around town (or, for the expats, as you travel down Memory Lane).

Tomorrow (Tuesday, January 9, 7 p.m., Town Hall Room 309), our request that the Town pursue a National Register listing for these nine early 20th Century bridges will be heard by Westport’s Historic District Commission at its public hearing.

We hope they are willing to cross that bridge when they come to it.