Hearing set on scenic road bid by Saugatuck span preservationists
The state has scheduled a Jan. 21 hearing on an application to have a stretch of state Route 136 declared a “scenic road,” sought by a group trying to preserve the Bridge Street bridge — the historic span the carries the road over the Saugatuck River.
The hearing will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Westport Center for Senior Activities, 21 Imperial Ave.
The public will be able to comment on the application filed with the state’s Scenic Road Advisory Committee to declare a 1.2-mile stretch of Route 136, known locally as Compo Road South and Bridge Street. The designation, if approved, would begin at the intersection of Route 1/Compo Road South and end at the west abutment of the bridge.
State law allows the state transportation commissioner “to designate state highways or portions thereof as scenic roads in consultation with the Commissioners of Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism,” the DOT said in announcing the hearing. The advisory committee, which includes representation from each of the three agencies, has indicated “the request has merit and warrants further consideration.”
Proponents of the scenic designation hope that it could be additional factor in favor of preserving the 132-year-old swing bridge, for which they are also seeking local historic landmark status.
The DOT is conducting a detailed study of operational and maintenance problems with the span, which were identified in a preliminary survey last fall. That report is expected to determine whether the bridge can be repaired or should be replaced.
To qualify for a scenic road designation, a road must have a minimum length of one mile and have “significant natural or cultural features along its borders such as agricultural land, a historic building or structure which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the State Register of Historic Places, or afford vistas of marshes, shoreline, forests with mature trees or notable geologic or other natural features which singly or in combination set the highway apart from other highways as being distinct,” the state announcement said.
If the designation is granted, it would require that future changes to the roadway would need to preserve its scenic qualities.
Anyone wishing to comment on the application may do so in writing no later than Jan. 29. All correspondence should be mailed or delivered to Colleen Kissane, chairwoman, Scenic Road Advisory Committee, Connecticut Department of Transportation, 2800 Berlin Turnpike, and P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546.