The Connecticut Department of Transportation imposed a 20-ton vehicle weight restriction for the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge – an historic swing bridge from 1884 that carries Route 136 over the Saugatuck River in Westport – due to "structural deterioration of the pier piles and pile bracing structure."
It said the decision to impose the restrictions beginning March 20 – "was the result of the ongoing structural engineering evaluation and inspection of the load capacity of the 19th century truss bridge."
Only vehicles weighing 40,000 pounds or less will be permitted on the bridge "while an extensive rehabilitation project gets underway," the announcement said.
The CTDOT said the structure is "a narrow, 287-foot bridge" that is on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Route 136 Scenic Road designation.
That traffic restriction is an example of steps state DOTs must take to guard traffic safety on aging infrastructure, when it will no longer support normal weights of larger vehicles.
In this case, news reports said the restriction will not affect school buses but will force some large emergency vehicles and public works trucks to take alternate routes. And the agency cautioned that it could have to close the bridge at some point for repairs.
As a swing bridge, it opens and closes for marine traffic on the river below, and the agency said more than 13,000 vehicles use the bridge on an average day. The two-lane bridge also has a pedestrian walkway and is part of the East Coast Greenway bicycle route.
But the department said the "the bridge has an overall rating of poor."
Officials are evaluating measures to eliminate the weight restriction. And the department said it is "also currently in the preliminary engineering study phase for the bridge to determine a scope of rehabilitation work required going forward."
Engineers are evaluating those trusses, it said, for load 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."
Photo / CTDOT
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