Saugatuck Swing Bridge excluded from study area
Updated 12:38 pm, Saturday, February 18, 2017
WESTPORT — Although the historic Saugatuck Swing Bridge will not be included in the study area for a redevelopment project in that part of town, a subcommittee has been charged with addressing the bridge.
The subcommittee, established at Tuesday’s Saugatuck Transit Oriented Development Committee meeting, will work to ensure the 133-year-old bridge that spans across the Saugatuck River will be a consideration in the planning of Barton Partners’ Saugatuck Center project.
Last month, Pennsylvania-based Barton was chosen by the town to receive a $440,000 contract funded by a state grant to plan a transit-oriented development in Saugatuck.
The fate of the 287-foot-long wrought-iron bridge, built in 1884, has yet to be determined by the state Department of Transportation. The DOT’s Rehabilitation Studies Report, released June 3, recommended either “major rehabilitation” or “structure replacement.” At a DOT public session last summer, the majority of residents in attendance said they wanted the bridge preserved.
Officially called the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge, the oldest movable span in the state is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of a state scenic road designation. Recently, the DOT initiated an integrity analysis of the bridge, expected to be completed in March, which compares the bridge from 1987 to now, including the rehabilitation it underwent in 1991.
Seth Shapiro, principal for Barton Partners and lead for the Saugatuck Center project, said the bridge was excluded from the study area due to cost and time constraints.
Using Shapiro’s theme of Saugatuck as a “Gateway to Westport,” Peter Gold, a committee member, said the Cribari bridge is extremely visible from Saugatuck.
“You talked about gateways to an area. That’s certainly a visible gateway. You go over the bridge to the rest of the town,” Gold said.
Committee Co-Chairwoman 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.
“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.