Resources

Below are links to information related to the Saugatuck Swing Bridge:

1. National Register Nomination Form: This is the foundational document that makes the case for the bridge’s historic significance. It was used to list the Saugatuck Swing Bridge on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 and contains some good commentary on Union Bridge Co., the business that fabricated this structure.

2. Historic American Engineering Record Report: Although it repeats a common misconception that the Union Bridge Co. was the only company to respond to Westport’s 1884 request for bids (there were actually seven), this document does a reasonably good job of explaining the early history of this bridge site as well as the current bridge’s construction.

3. Connecticut Historic Bridge Inventory and Preservation Plan: This comprehensive document was compiled at the request of the Connecticut Department of Transportation in 1991. In addition to inventorying notable historic spans in the state, it outlines appropriate treatment options for same. Please refer to page 175 of the report to read the specific preservation planning recommendations for the Saugatuck Bridge.

4. Guidelines for Historic Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement: This report contains a set of guidelines to be used as the protocol for defining when rehabilitation of historic bridges can be considered prudent and feasible and when it is not based on engineering and environmental data and judgments.  The guidelines include identification of various approaches to bringing historic bridges into conformance with current design and safety guidelines/standards, and the effect or implications of remedial actions on historic significance.

5. DOT Rehabilitation Study Report (RSR) June 2016:  On Friday June 3, 2016, DOT released its long awaited study report for the Saugatuck River Swing Bridge.  Oddly, the report did not make a final recommendation but instead presented two possible options and called for further study as well as consultation with stakeholders.   The report lists just two options:  rehabilitate the existing bridge at a cost of $19.8 million or replace it with at a cost of $35.8 million.  Both options would eliminate the existing height restrictions and thus allow for tractor trailer trucks to detour from the I95 and cross the bridge.  The ten (10) appendixes that accompany the RSR can be found here at the bottom of the page on DOT’s website.   DOT conducted a public presentation of the RSR for the residents of Westport on June 15, 2016 at 7:00 pm in Westport Town Hall.  The video stream of the entire June 15, 2016 DOT meeting along with residents comments and concerns can be found here.

6. Westport Historic District Commission (HDC) voted unanimously at a special hearing on May 25, 2016 to accept the Study Report for Local Historic District Designation of the Saugatuck River Swing Bridge, 1884  The report was compiled by the HDC Saugatuck Bridge Study Subcommittee.  WPA team member, Morley Boyd, served on this Subcommittee and is one of the report’s four authors.  The report also included extensive historical research contributed by WPA team member, Wendy Crowther.

7. Historic Bridge Foundation: a respected advocacy and education group, the Foundation provides consultation and guidance to individuals and groups seeking to conserve important historic bridges.

8. Historicbridges.org: a fascinating, well constructed site for those looking to learn more about historic spans anywhere in the United States. Trigger Alert for history buffs: this site is highly addictive.

9. Scenic Highway Designation: In October, 2015 the Westport Preservation Alliance, in order to help conserve the historic quality of the 1.82 mile stretch of Route 136 between Bridge Street (including the Saugatuck Swing Bridge) and the north end of Compo Road South, applied to the DOT for this protective status.  Here is the WPA’s application and the P&Z Official Letter of Support.  On July 7, 2016, DOT announced that it was designating the area a State Scenic Highway.

10. Original drawing of the Saugatuck Swing Bridge: presented to the Town of Westport in July 1884, by Cornelius Van Ness Kittredge, Secretary of the Union Bridge Company. This rare document was likely used during the selection process after seven builders responded to the Town’s request for a proposal to build a replacement bridge over the Saugatuck River. Westport has kept it ever since. With thanks to the Westport Historical Society.

11. Deed for land to build Bridge Street: This 1869 document is really was what made it possible to have a new crossing on the Saugatuck. Chloe Allen, whose house still stands at the corner of Bridge and South Compo, donated the right of way – with the understanding that the town would construct a fence on both sides to keep her livestock from harm.

12. Westport Preservation Alliance’s formal request to CT DOT for Consulting Party Status on March 18, 2016.  This Consulting Party Status requires that DOT furnish “in a timely fashion…any and all documents related to the planning activities associated with the subject structure. This would include, but is not limited to: the Rehabilitation Study Report (RSR), any associated traffic studies and any other pertinent work products developed or sourced by the CTDOT’s Bureau of Engineering and Construction, its National Register Specialist, or other related departments of the Agency.”   DOT’s response on April 22, 2016.