The state is limiting the weight of vehicles that can cross the 133-year-old William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge in Westport because of structural deterioration, and that will prohibit some emergency vehicles from crossing the truss bridge, according to Westport officials.
Westport officials said the Connecticut Department of Transportation notified them Monday that only vehicles weighing less than 40,000 pounds, or 20 tons, will be permitted on the state-owned and maintained bridge, which goes over the Saugatuck River.
“(R)esidents should be aware that this limitation does not impact a majority of the vehicles that cross the Cribari Bridge, including school buses,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said in a news released.
Marpe said some emergency vehicles and town public works vehicles that exceed the weight limit will have to take the Post Road or Interstate 95 to provide service to the west side of the Saugatuck River.
“I have been conferring with Fire Chief Robert Yost, who assures me that public safety will not be compromised as a result of this re-routing. While there may be a slightly increased response time, it will remain within the Federal safety parameters for effective emergency management,” Marpe said in a statement.
Westport officials said the notification from the state DOT says the decision to impose the restrictions was the “result of the ongoing structural engineering evaluation and inspection of the load capacity of the 19th Century truss bridge.”
They said the bridge has an overall rating of poor and the weight restriction is mandated based on “the structural deterioration of the pier piles and pile bracing structure.”
They said the DOT is evaluating measures to take to eliminate this restriction and the department is in the preliminary engineering study phase for the bridge to determine a scope of rehabilitation work required going forward.
Westport officials said the trusses are being checked for load carrying capacity to determine whether more immediate repair is needed.
The bridge, which was completed in 1884, is now named in honor of William F. “Crowbar” Cribari, a World War II veteran born in 1918 who was a Westport Police officer and often directed traffic through the heart of the Saugatuck section of Westport and across the Bridge Street Bridge, which is now named for him. He died in 2007 at the age of 88, according to the DOT.