Study on status of Saugatuck swing bridge expected soon
Published 4:11 pm, Tuesday, May 3, 2016
WESTPORT — The state’s study on the condition of the 132-year-old Saugatuck swing bridge — a report that will determine whether deterioration of the historic span can be repaired, or if it should be replaced — is expected to be released later this month.
The state Department of Transportation’s Rehabilitation Studies Report — including a traffic survey of streets in the areas of state Routes 1, 33 and 136, the latter of which is carried over the Saugatuck River by the swing bridge — will be the subject of an informational forum in June, according to a DOT spokesman. Specific dates, however, are not yet available.
The bridge, formally known as the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge, was deemed "severely deficient" by the DOT last fall, which prompted its detailed study on the best way to address the span’s condition.
Members of the Westport Preservation Alliance, spearheaded by preservationist Morley Boyd, have been working to designate the bridge itself, and areas abutting the bridge along both banks of the Saugatuck River, as a local historic district. The bridge — the oldest moveable span in the state — is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Boyd said he is eager to see what conclusions the DOT study makes regarding the future of the bridge.
"I certainly look forward to the study’s findings and I anticipate that the DOT will take into consideration that there has been an outpouring of local interest in preserving the bridge as it exists today," Boyd said.
"The Westport Preservation Alliance sent a petition to DOT Commissioner Redeker to ask to be a consulting party (consistent with DOT policy) and that would mean we would be part of the planning process with regard to the bridge,” he added.
Boyd said the DOT said its officials would respond to that petition, and he expects to hear from the agency in the near future.
Meanwhile, local support has been ramping up in support of preserving the 287-foot-long metal bridge, built in 1884. The “effort to designate the bridge and surrounding area is moving along quite nicely and the study report is still in draft stage but is nearly completed,” Boyd said. “It contains a lot of new interesting material that the public will be interested in seeing.”
He said residents of Bridge Street, the local name for Route 136, “have stepped up to the plate and have requested that the area is designated.
"The state historic preservation office has scheduled a site visit on the bridge April 28 at 1 p.m. to look at everything. My understanding is that support is building in the neighborhood and they want to do everything they can to conserve it," he added.
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