DOT puts limits on travel over Cribari Bridge
Updated 4:26 pm, Wednesday, March 21, 2018
WESTPORT — In a move that will prevent certain emergency vehicles and some public works vehicles from crossing the span, the state Department of Transportation smacked a 20-ton limit on the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge over the Saugatuck River Monday.
“The decision to impose the restrictions — beginning Tuesday, March 20, 2018 — was the result of the ongoing structural engineering evaluation and inspection of the load capacity of the 19th Century truss bridge,” read a statement from CTDOT.
First Selectman Jim Marpe said while the restriction will not affect most traffic crossing the river, “there are some emergency vehicles and Town public works vehicles that surpass the weight limit, and will now require re-routing via the Post Road or I-95 to provide service to the west side of the Saugatuck River.”
“I have conferred with Fire Chief Robert Yost, who assures me that public safety will not be compromised as a result of this re-routing,” said Marpe in a statement released Tuesday. “While there may be a slightly increased response time, it will remain within the Federal safety parameters for effective emergency management.”
Town officials were notified by the CTDOT late Monday that effective today, March 20, only vehicles weighing less than 40,000 pounds (20 tons) or less will be permitted on the state-owned and maintained bridge.
The bridge has an overall rating of poor, according to CTDOT. The weight restriction is mandated based on the structural deterioration of the pier piles and pile bracing structure. CTDOT is evaluating measures to take in order to eliminate this restriction.
In July 2017, Marpe requested $40 million be removed from the State Transportation Improvement Program list that could have made repairs to the bridge possible. The STIP lists all highway and public transit projects proposed to be undertaken utilizing Federal Highway and Federal Transit Administration funding. The STIP encompasses various projects the DOT intends to pursue during the next four years.
“I cannot even contemplate supporting the set-aside of $40 million in constructed costs without a clearer understanding of the intentions of this project,” Marpe said in prepared remarks at a state Department of Transportation at that time.
CTDOT is currently in the preliminary engineering study phase for the bridge to determine a scope of rehabilitation work required going forward. The trusses are currently being reevaluated for load-carrying capacity based on damage and corrosion documented in the latest bridge inspection report to determine whether more immediate repair is needed. Truss repair, if required, could include the temporary closing of the bridge at some point in the future.
Completed in 1884, the narrow, 287-foot bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is part of the Route 136 Scenic Road designation.