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Cribari Bridge Public Advisory Committee Formed
06880 Posted July 10, 2018 13 Comments

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).

New DOT proposal for Cribari Bridge would transfer ownership to town
By Laura Weiss Westport News Published 5:12 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The state’s transportation department offered a new plan for the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge, proposing the state carry out repairs … and then transfer ownership to Westport, First Selectman Jim Marpe announced Tuesday.

The proposal’s announcement comes two days ahead of a South West Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting when funding for a repair or replacement of the bridge is up for a vote.

John Suggs, of the Westport Preservation Alliance, said he believes the proposal would neither preserve the bridge nor keep trucks from inundating nearby roads. Suggs, who has advocated against a major rehabilitation or replacement of the bridge, entered this fall’s first selectman race last week as an independent. Preservation of the bridge is among his concerns as a candidate.

“My position is no thanks,” he said. “This is not something that the town of Wesptort would benefit by, and we want the DOT to do its job to maintain the bridge, do the minor repairs and to leave our bridge the way it is.”  He said the decision should be made as a town and include an evaluation of potential impacts — such as the financial responsibility of snow plowing and maintenance that would come with bridge ownership — and believes the proposal should go before the Representative Town Meeting. But based on the information in the proposal, Suggs believes rehabilitation would go beyond the minor repairs he would hope to see and that widening the bridge would likely involve raising its height as well.

Marpe: Pros and Cons to State’s Cribari Bridge Proposal
August 15, 2017 WestportNow.Com By James Lomuscio

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe said it would be premature for him to make any decision on the offer Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials made to him today concerning the historic William F. Cribari Bridge.

John Suggs, a Representative Town Meeting Member (RTM) who is running as an Independent for first selectman in November, criticized Redeker’s proposal.  Suggs, who has made the bridge a focus of his campaign, said that even if the CDOT gives the bridge to the town after making repairs, it would not be the same bridge. He said the state plans to widen it to accommodate eighteen-wheeler trucks and that the steel grate structure would have to be raised.

BREAKING NEWS: Cribari Bridge Solution May Be At Hand
06880danwoog.com August 15, 2017 | 44 comments

According to State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, the DOT is prepared to reroute Route 136.  The plan was described to a bipartisan group of state legislators from the area — Steinberg, State Senators Toni Boucher and Tony Hwang, and State Representative Gail Lavielle — by state DOT officials, including commissioner James Redeker. DOT wanted the legislators’ input, before presenting it to 1st selectman Jim Marpe.

[NOTE: An earlier version of this story described — based on a source — the meeting as a “negotiation.” It was an informational meeting only.]

William F. Cribari: The Man Behind the Bridge
06880danwoog.com Posted on July 19, 2017 | 26 comments

Wonderful piece on William F. (Crobar) Cribari the beloved Saugatuck Native and Traffic Officer who faithfully guided traffic over the iconic bridge which is now properly named in his honor.

Marpe says no to Cribari Bridge funding
July 14, 2017 Westport News Chris Marquette

It isn’t every day someone turns down $40 million.  But…, the hooks attached to the money in state and federal funding to design and rebuild the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge brought with it much uncertainty….   Marpe…is prepared to vote against the funding at the planning organization’s Aug. 17 meeting and will encourage his colleagues there to do so, as well.  John Suggs, of the Westport Preservation Alliance, said he was pleased the DOT accepted Marpe’s remarks, but is wary of the $2 million slated to be kept for a final design.

Cribari Bridge: Another View
06880danwoog.com Posted on 

Yesterday’s statement by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe — requesting that the state withdraw funding for final design and construction projects related to the William F. Cribari (Bridge Street) Bridge — shined a spotlight on the 133-year-old span.   Despite Marpe’s statement, the next steps in the bridge’s long history have not yet been determined.

Among $4.5 Billion In Highway Upgrades, A Small Westport Bridge Draws Fire
July 11, 2017 Hartford Courant Dan Stacom

At a hearing Tuesday on a $4.5 billion plan for transportation infrastructure repairs across the state, just one project drew public comment: Whether to fix or replace the little two-lane Cribari Bridge in Westport. In a change of pace, the town and hundreds of residents aren’t asking for money for the work. Instead, they want the state Department of Transportation to scuttle its proposal to set aside $40 million in state and federal funds for it.

“My constituents do not want a new bridge, they do not want an expanded replacement of the existing bridge and they specifically do not want 18-wheelers going through our neighborhood,” said John F. Suggs, a District 5 member of Westport’s representative town meeting.

BREAKING NEWS: Marpe Tells State: Don’t Fund Cribari Bridge Replacement
Posted on July 11, 2017 | 57 comments

Moments ago, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe spoke to State Transportation Improvement Program officials.

For the first time, he explicitly asked them to remove funding for final design and construction projects related to the William Cribari (Bridge Street) bridge.

That throws the municipal government’s weight behind a strong citizens’ effort opposing major rehabilitation or replacement of the 133-year-old historic span.

Westport Preservation Group Urges First Selectman Marpe To Vote ‘No’ Saugatuck Bridge Project.  If the state has its way, the antique bridge could be widened to allow large trucks.
Alfred Branch (Patch Staff) – July 10, 2017

The Westport Preservation Alliance, a local grassroots group dedicated to preserving the Saugatuck Bridge, is calling on First Selectman Jim Marpe to keep to his promise to vote against state funding for the renovation of the historic span.  The state wants to widen the bridge to allow tractor trailer trucks to drive over it, but the residents’ group is fighting to keep the bridge, also known as the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge, as-is.

A vote is scheduled for Aug. 17 on whether to include the bridge rehab project on a regional plan, which would move it forward, and Marpe reportedly said in the past that he would not support the measure. In a Westport News story over the weekend, Marpe appeared to open the door to changing his vote because final plans have not yet been submitted, which complicates that August vote.

The preservation group emailed residents Monday with a form letter to email to Marpe and the Board of Selectmen to vote against the project.  “We all know it’s going to take courage to stand up for the bridge and to fight for our community,” wrote the group in the email. “Simply stated, here’s what’s at stake. A bigger bridge, whether “improved” or replaced, means 18-wheelers. Preserving the bridge, just as it is, means no 18-wheelers.”

Cribari Bridge vote a murky situation
July 7, 2017 Westport News Chris Marquette

Despite previous assurances, in this interview, First Selectman Jim Marpe stated that he didn’t “know yet” how he plans to vote August 17th on the funding which would permit the destruction of the bridge and allow 18 wheelers access to Saugatuck and Greens Farms.

Westport’s Scenic Road
May, 2017 Westport Magazine

Westport Magazine profiles the Saugatuck Bridge and a detail description of the entire State Scenic Road that it includes.

Saugatuck Swing Bridge excluded from study area
Feb 16, 2017 Westport News Chris Marquette

A packed room in Westport Town Hall on Feb. 14, 2017, heard the Saugatuck Steering Committee’s discussion on whether the Saugatuck Swing Bridge should be included in the study area for Saugatuck Center.

Committee Co-Chair Mary Young said although the boundary will not include the bridge, there will be concentric circles added to the map, including the bridge, to indicate adjacent areas of influence for consideration.  The public, including…John Suggs, RTM 5, further lobbied for the bridge’s inclusion into the boundary. “I appreciate the concept of a concentric circle, but I’ve never seen a concentric circle actually protect a physical entity like this,” Suggs said.

Residents help steer direction of Westport
Jan 20, 2017 Westport News Chris Marquette

Conserving the town was considered the No. 1 priority for future town planning, beating out development and infrastructure handily in a survey workshop to help shape the 2017 Plan of Conservation and Development.  Community character, a subset of conservation, was tabbed as a focal point for the residents who participated in the survey Jan. 12 at town hall.  “Community character, for me, is preservation, specifically, preserving the Saugatuck swing bridge, the William Cribari Bridge,” said RTM member John Suggs in regard to the preservation of the 133-year-old bridge. “It’s often said that we preserve that bridge so we can preserve ourselves and that community.”

It’s A Wonderful Bridge
06880danwoog.com December 14, 2016 | 21 comments

Alert — and historic-minded — “06880” reader [and WPA Founder] Wendy Crowther sent along this perfect holiday/Westport piece. She writes:

A few days ago, my TV remote dropped me into the last half of the 1946 holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. I entered the story just as George Bailey ran onto the Bedford Falls Bridge and contemplated suicide. Luckily George’s guardian angel, Clarence, showed up just in time to help George see the value of his life, and its impact on his town and loved ones.

Though I’ve seen the movie a bazillion times, this time I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. George Bailey’s bridge was very similar to our own Saugatuck swing bridge (the William F. Cribari Bridge).

Due to my involvement over the last year and a half in efforts to not only document the history of our 132-year old span, but also save it from the impending doom of the state Department of Transportation’s scrap heap, I’ve become sensitized to old bridges in general — particularly truss bridges like ours (and George’s)…

Marpe: Long Battle to maintain the historic character of the bridge
October 18, 2016  WestportNow.Com

Marpe said negotiations with the state on rehabilitating the William F. Cribari Bridge in Saugatuck will likely be a “long battle to maintain the historic character” of the bridge….He said on some tough days at the office he often returns home and asks his wife, Mary Ellen, “What was that all about?” And often her response is to “have a drink,” Marpe said.

Route 136: Scenic road sign seen as more protection for classic bridge in Westport
October 2, 2016 Westport News Chris Marquette

In what appears to serve as yet another layer of protection against replacement of the Bridge Street Bridge, a deep blue scenic road sign has been firmly planted at each end of the 1.8-mile stretch of Route 136.  Morley Boyd, a member of the Westport Preservation Alliance, who was instrumental in the application process, said although they started the initiative as a way to save the bridge, they soon uncovered how significant the route was.  “Of course the process did start out, in all candor, as a thought argument about how to conserve the bridge, but as we looked into the program, I was thinking, ‘My god, here we have 1.8 miles that not only includes 22 acres of open space, but 48 documented historic resources, including one of the most significant barns in the state of Connecticut, the Gault Barn,’ ” Boyd said.

Part of Route 136 now ‘scenic’
September 27, 2016 Minuteman News Jarret Liotta

It’s been what some might call a long road, but the work has culminated in what the state is calling a scenic road.

Four preservation-minded Westporters were thrilled to see a 1.8-mile section of Route 136 that includes the historic Saugatuck William Cribari Memorial Bridge designated by the state Department of Transportation as a Scenic Road.

“We filed this application in October of last year,” said Morley Boyd, local historian….it is “bracketed by, at one end, an actual battle site,” at the Post Road and Compo Road South, “and at the other the oldest bridge of its type in the nation.”

“I think it’s a great honor for Westport,” said Helen Garten, who thought of the idea originally.

Scenic Road Signs Unveiled
September 22, 2016 – WestportNow.Com

A state scenic road sign, recently approved by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT), was officially unveiled today at a ceremony at the corner of Riverside Avenue and Bridge Street. It is one of two signs designating a 1.8-mile scenic route in Westport. The other is at the end of the route on Compo Road South near the entrance to the Baron’s South property. Colleen Kissane, a scenic road advisor to CDOT said, the 1.8 mile scenic route “is significant in that there are 48 historic resources along the brief route.” The designation was sought by preservationists who want to see the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge (background) preserved rather than replaced.

DOT uncertain on future of Saugatuck Swing Bridge
August 26, 2016 Westport News Chris Marquette

The fate of the 132 year old Saugatuck Swing Bridge is still uncertain….One attendee at the June meeting who voiced concern over the new proposed height of the bridge was Selectwoman Helen Garten.  “I think, certainly, the town has given feedback,” Garten said, “At the first public meeting, it was very clear that the residents of Westport value the bridge, they value its historical significance to Westport, they value its contribution to the character of that neighborhood and they value the fact that Route 136 in not a cut-through for large trucks leaving 95.”

Saugatuck River Bridge, Route 136 stretch named “scenic highway” by state.
July 14, 2016 Westport News  Laura Weiss

The state named a stretch of Route 136 — including the Saugatuck River Bridge — as a scenic roadway last week, possibly limiting any proposed state construction to the area.

The 1.82-mile portion begins at the intersection of Route 136 with Route 1 and Compo Road South, continues to the intersection of Route 136 and Bridge Street and concludes at the west end of the Saugatuck River Bridge….The bridge was already part of the National Register of Historic Places.

 Route 136 joins the Merritt Parkway as the only scenic roadways in town. “We’re justly proud because while the Merritt is a great road it’s hard to think of it as ours,” said Morley Boyd, a Westport Preservation Alliance member who was among those that submitted the roadway to the state for consideration. “This is a scenic highway that starts and ends in Westport. It’s a part of Westport history. For Westport residents, it communicates something of greater meaning.”

 Hwang, Boucher praise “scenic” designation for Route 136
July 12, 2016 The MinuteMan

State Sen. Toni Boucher and State Sen. Tony Hwang are applauding the state’s July 8 announcement that a nearly two-mile stretch of Route 136 in Westport will be designated as a “Scenic Roadway.”

The section of Route 136 approved for Scenic Roadway designation begins at the intersection with Route 1 and Compo Road south, and proceeds south to the intersection at Bridge Street, where it turns west, ending at the west abutment of the Saugatuck River Bridge, for a distance of 1.82 miles.

“It’s a feather in Westport’s hat, and rightly so,” Hwang said.  “Route 136 has natural beauty, rich history, and significant importance to the community and region.  This designation also reinforces our support for the historic Cribari Bridge, which spans the Saugatuck. Westport is unique in that it is home to Connecticut’s oldest, moveable, hand-cranked swing bridge – a bridge that is on the National Register of Historic Places. We thank state officials for this designation.”

Hiawatha Lane Sewer Denied; Scenic Highway Approved
06880danwoog.com Posted on July 8, 2016 | 15 Comments

Two big decisions — both of which could impact the future of Saugatuck — were made yesterday.  The Planning & Zoning Commission denied the request for a sewer line from Davenport Avenue to Hiawatha Lane. The proposal was crucial to approval of a larger project: the construction of 155 rental units on Hiawatha Lane Extension.

Earlier in the day, the Westport Preservation Alliance announced that the state Department of Transportation has agreed to designate part of Route 136 — specifically Compo Road South, Bridge Street and the William F. Cribari (aka Bridge Street) swing bridge — a “state scenic highway.”

The WPA says the designation “adds an additional level of protection for this important area of our town. Any proposed changes to the bridge must be reviewed by the State Scenic Highway Advisory Committee. Effectively, this allows a different set of state officials, who may be more sympathetic to scenic beauty and preservation, to weigh in on the DOT’s plans.”

Plans for multi-family housing on Hiawatha Lane, and for major changes to the bridge, are not yet dead.  But neither are they as healthy as they were yesterday.

CDOT OKs Scenic Roadway for Westport
WestportNow.Com  July 7, 2016

Following a detailed review process by the Scenic Roads Advisory Committee, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced today that a nearly two-mile portion of Route 136 in Westport has been officially designated as a Scenic Roadway.  Westport proponents of the scenic road designation included Selectwoman Helen Garten, Representative Town Meeting (RTM) member John Suggs and preservationists Morley Boyd and Wendy Crowther.  Their move was designed to safeguard the the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge, which the CDOT plans to renovate.

“This is a great honor for Westport,” said Garten. “It’s gratifying that the state has officially recognized that this route, which contains notable landmark properties and includes the iconic Saugatuck Swing Bridge, has special historic significance and character.  The designation adds an additional level of protection for this important area of our town.  Any proposed changes to the bridge must be reviewed by the State Scenic Highway Advisory Committee.  Effectively, this allows a different set of state officials, who may be more sympathetic to scenic beauty and preservation, to weigh in on the DOT’s plans. We are very excited about having helped garner this honor for Westport.”

July 1 Deadline Looms for Cribari Bridge Comments
June 19, 2016  06880 Blog

Everyone has an opinion – or 3 – on what to do with the William Cribari (aka Bridge Street) Bridge.  But the only one that matters right now are those that are submitted to the CT DOT.  The deadline is Friday, July 1st. Planning and Zoning Commission Chair/state representative candidate Cathy Walsh writes: “At Thursdays P&Z Meeting, we received a formal presentation by the Westport Historic District Commission asking for our support of their study of the significance of the bridge.  As we have done in the past, we elected to support their findings, and will be writing a letter of support.  We will also draft our our own letter to the DOT which will highlight other areas of concern to the P&Z regarding traffic, water, etc.   July 1 is the deadline for written testimony to be submitted into the public record.  Comments concerning historici preservation, traffic increase into Saugatuck, semi trucks using Greens Farms Road as in I-95 bypass and water are all important, and should be the focus of communications with DOT.”

To comment, write:

Mark W. Alexander
Transportation assistant planning director
CT DOT Bureau of policy and Planning
2800 Berlin Turnpike
Newington, CT 06131
Dot.environmentalplanning@ct.gov
NOTE: Please cc us info@preservewestport.com.  We are compiling and documenting all the emails and letters sent.

Residents speak out against Saugatuck swing bridge widening span
June 17, 2016 The Hour Chris Marquette

Selectwoman Helen Garten asked DOT Bridge Manager Theodore Nezames why the proposal seeks to split the historic truss and adds clearance height.  “Splitting the truss solves the problem of the truss…while we are doing it we could raise to the 14-foot 3-inches and that is part of our proposal,” Nezames said.  After Nezames finished his statement the crowd vociferously questioned “Why?” multiple times only to be shut down by the DOT moderator.

Residents Speak out against widening bridge
June 16, 2016 Westport News Chris Marquette