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Tag Archives: William F. Cribari Bridge
Larry Weisman has followed the recent controversy over the William F. Cribari Bridge with interest.
The longtime Westporter reads “068880” comments too. One in particular drew his attention.
Without quoting the statute, the commenter implied that it supports his argument for preservation as the only (or best) way to limit truck traffic on the bridge.
Weisman — an attorney — went to work. He found what he believes is the law: Section 14-298 of the Connecticut GeneraI Statutes.
Based on his reading — and in part on a successful campaign in Darien to ban trucks near I-95 — Weisman believes that the statute clearly allows the DOT to prohibit truck traffic under the same circumstances prevailing at the Cribari Bridge: “for the protection and safety of the public” whenever the route is “geographically located so that it could be utilized as a through truck route.”
Weisman found that among the physical characteristics to be assessed in determining whether the protection and safety of the public is at risk are: “road width and configuration, sight line restrictions, roadside character and development, number and character of intersecting streets and highways, traffic control devices, volume and character of traffic, and established speed limits.’’
“Not only is there nothing here that would prevent prohibition of trucks on that portion of Route 136 which utilizes the bridge,” Weisman says, “but the bridge meets almost every criterion for such a prohibition and the statute effectively counters the argument that retaining our substandard bridge is the best (or only) way to address the issue.”
Click here for Connecticut DOT’s “Through Truck Prohibitions” page.
The William F. Cribari bridge is all over the news. Plans are meandering and/or plowing ahead for reconstruction. Meanwhile, emergency repairs will begin soon.
And there’s a brouhaha over the recent spate of rush hour closings, in order to accommodate a boat moored just north of the swing span.
A discussion rages in the “06880” comments section: Is the 136-year-old bridge historic? Or just old?
You be the judge. This photo — sent by Carmine Picarello — comes from Eve Potts’ great book, “Westport…A Special Place.”
We’re not sure what the future holds. But whatever a renovated or new bridge looks like, one thing is sure.
It won’t have trolley tracks.
Town officials have been notified by the state Department of Transportation that an inspection several weeks ago revealed structural deficiencies in both the substructure and ornamental truss structure of the William F. Cribari Bridge.
ConnDOT says that immediate repairs are necessary to maintain “the continued safety and stability of the existing bridge structure.”
Repairs begin on July 30. The tentative schedule calls for 6 weeks of work — weather permitting.
The contractor will work between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., Mondays through Fridays. The bridge and sidewalk will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Marine traffic requiring bridge openings may be limited during work periods.
ConnDOT will continue to focus on the longer term future of the Cribari Bridge. As previously announced, their Project Advisory Committee meets tonight (Wednesday, July 18, 6:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium).
Several Westporters have recently noted their bad luck. They’ve been held up by the opening of the William Cribari Bridge — the span over the Saugatuck River that usually swings open only a few times a year.
It may not be coincidence. It could be deliberate.
Alert “06880” reader Billy Scalzi says that for the past 2 or 3 weeks, the same boater has demanded the bridge be opened once or twice a day — always during rush hour.
Billy snapped these photos:
He’s seen it happen time and again. But that’s all Billy knows. If any “06880” reader knows more, click “Comments” below.
The William F. Cribari/Bridge Street Bridge saga rolls on.
The 1st Selectman’s office just sent out this press release:
The state Department of Transportation recently announced the creation of a Project Advisory Committee for input and guidance as the project to rebuild the William F. Cribari Bridge advances.
The first meeting will take place on Wednesday, July 18 (6:30 p.m., Town Hall Auditorium).
According to the DOT:
CTDOT is initiating preliminary engineering work to address structural and functional issues affecting the bridge. As part of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act, an Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Evaluation will be conducted in order to determine the socio-economic and environmental impacts of various design alternatives. The purpose of the EA/EIE is to explore options that accommodate safe vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian, and marine travel, are resilient to the changing shoreline climate and environmental conditions and consider the historic character of the bridge.
Based on the concerns and needs of the community, the Department has identified a group of project stakeholders whose expertise may provide helpful input into a variety of issues, including safety, mobility, environmental concerns, and historic considerations. A Project Advisory Committee is being developed to provide critical input and assist the Department in its decision-making process. Other stakeholders may be identified during the study process and incorporated in the PAC as warranted.
The PAC will meet at key milestones during project development in fulfillment of its role.
Local organizations, businesses and government entities that CT DOT has identified in its initial PAC roster include:
Town of Westport:
- First Selectman
- Fire Department
- Police Department
- Public Works Department
- Conservation Department
- Historic District Commission
- Shellfish Commission
- Boating Advisory Committee
- Downtown Plan Implementation Committee
- Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce
- Westport Preservation Alliance
- Bridgebrook Marina
- All Seasons Marine Works
State and regional entities that have been invited include:
- CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- CT Commuter Rail Council
- CT Trust for Historic Preservation
- CT Fund for the Environment / Save the Sound
- Federal Highway Administration
- State Historic Preservation Office
- Western CT Council of Governments
The Selectman’s office suggested a number of additional organizations and individuals to be included in the PAC when it was made aware of the formation in late June. To date however, CT DOT did not include those groups in its initial invitation, but noted that other stakeholders may be identified and added to the PAC.
First Selectman Jim Marpe commented, “The creation of this PAC is part of an ongoing environmental assessment that is required due to both the historic nature of the bridge and its location over the Saugatuck River. It should be stressed that this step in the process is not a sign of any intent or decisions regarding the ultimate design or rehabilitation of the bridge. Neither is it a reflection on any conclusions that may be made by the Town to accept the State’s offer to rehabilitate the bridge and turn its ownership over to the Town, as proposed by CT DOT in 2017.”
Marpe continued, “I recognize the Cribari Bridge contributes to the historic character of the Town of Westport and in particular, the Saugatuck community. This will be an important opportunity for the members of the PAC and eventually, the whole community to once again offer its opinions and observations related to the bridge and any environmental impacts that may result from its rebuild or rehabilitation. The meeting on July 18 is open to the public, although CT DOT management has indicated that public input will be limited at this session. It is unclear how much input or level of participation will be accepted from those individuals and organizations not identified as members of the PAC in either this or subsequent meetings that will be organized and conducted by the CT DOT.”
Comments or questions regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment process, the formation of the Project Advisory Committee and the agenda/conduct of the July 18 meeting should be directed to CT DOT’s Project Manager, Priti S. Bhardwaj by email (Priti.Bhardwaj@ct.gov) or phone (860- 594-3311).
Werner Liepolt lives on Bridge Street.
Around the corner is the William F. Cribari Bridge. In 1987 — the first time the century-old span was slated to be replaced by a modern one — Westporters succeeded in gaining National Historic Structure designation for it.
In November 2015 — with plans once again afoot to renovate or replace the Cribari Bridge, and spillover impacts likely for Bridge Street and beyond — Liepolt began a quest to get National Historic District status for his entire neighborhood.
The longtime Westporter knew that many of the houses on his road had contributed to Westport history. Over the years, he’d heard stories from older residents about who grew up where, which families were related, and how beautifully the forsythia had bloomed.
He saw historical plaques affixed to many homes. But to submit a Historic District application, he needed to learn more.
Morley Boyd — Westport’s historic preservation expert — directed Liepolt to a history of the town, and an 1869 document in which Chloe Allen “dedicated to the public” the road between her house (still standing on the corner of Bridge Street and South Compo) and the Saugatuck River.
That half-mile stretch now boasts more than 20 historical resources. Thirty-one properties are eligible for Connecticut State Historic Preservation plaques.
Wendy Crowther noted that a New Yorker cover by Edna Eicke shows a little girl celebrating July 4th on the porch of her 1880 home, on the corner of Imperial Avenue and Bridge Street.
That’s the same house where John Dolan — keeper of the manually operated swing bridge — lived until the 1940s.
Liepolt also researched what it means to be a National Register District. Benefits, he found, are modest — and obligations non-existent.
A homeowner can do anything to and with a house that any other owner can. An owner who makes restorational repairs may enjoy a tax benefit.
Liepolt learned too that if any federal funding, licensing or permitting is involved in development in a National Register District, that agency must take into account the effects of that action on historic properties, and consult with stakeholders.
Liepolt says this means that a possible Connecticut Department of Transportation plan to use federal funds to widen Route 136 — Bridge Street — as it feeds the bridge over the Saugatuck would require the Federal Highway Authority to consider the effect, and consult with property owners there.
The goal of this consultation is to mitigate “adverse effects,” Liepolt explains. These can be direct or indirect, and include physical destruction and damage; alteration inconsistent with standards for the treatment of historic properties; relocation of the property; change in the character of the property’s use; introduction of incompatible elements; neglect and deterioration, and more.
In February 2016, Liepolt asked Westport’s Historic District Commission to make a formal request for designation of the Bridge Street neighborhood. It was approved unanimously.
Liepolt worked with HDC coordinator Carol Leahy and an architectural historian to complete the research, take photographs, compile materials and write the final application to the National Parks Service.
This past April, the application was approved. Bridge Street is now added to the list of Nationally Registered Districts.
There was no big announcement. I’m not sure if anyone in town really noticed.
But we sure would notice if — without this designation — the look and character of the Bridge Street neighborhood ever changed.