Letter: Swing into action to save Cribari Bridge

The Bridge Street bridge -- formally, the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge -- is
The Bridge Street bridge -- formally, the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge -- is "severely deficient," according to the state Department of Transportation, which is studying whether to repair or replace the span over the Saugatuck River.File photo / File photo

The old metal bridge in Saugatuck is perhaps one of Westport’s most iconic and charming images. In winter, its holiday lights cheer commuters as they hurry to and from the RR station. In summer, it affords a dazzling view of the river and the rowers and paddleboarders below.

Built in 1884, the bridge — officially known as the “Cribari Bridge” — is the oldest swing bridge in Connecticut. It is already on the National Register of Historic Places and Westporters are beginning the process of having the bridge designated as a local historic property. The bridge has served Westport well for more than 130 years, though a recent survey indicates that it needs substantial repairs.

The state Department of Transportation, however, is studying the bridge and the possibility exists that it will invoke its powers of eminent domain and replace the bridge with a larger and more contemporary structure. The DOT has stated in writing that it will oppose designating the bridge as a local historic property.

Save Westport Now believes that a larger bridge will actually encourage commercial and other traffic through the already congested Saugatuck district — especially when I-95 backs up. In fact, the dimensions of the current bridge (287 feet long, 20 feet wide and 6.9 feet high) have been instrumental in protecting the fragile infrastructure of Saugatuck’s old town roads and Westport’s small town character. Moreover, we believe that a bigger — and taller — bridge will be unsightly and detrimental to Westport’s aesthetic and image. SWN believes that this iconic structure should be repaired and restored so that it can continue to span both the river and centuries, serving as a bridge and monument to Westport’s history.

Save Westport Now applauds First Selectman Jim Marpe for his leadership in taking a proactive role in this matter and publicly stating that the bridge should be retained. And we would like to thank our RTM members for unanimously voting to designate the bridge as historic. If you agree, then please contact us (info@savewestportnow.org) or write to your state and local representatives to let them know that you too care about preserving Westport’s character.

Jeff Block

Valerie Seiling Jacobs


Save Westport Now