CT DOT Presents 2021-2024 SWRMPO Draft TIP List
Includes Funding for Cribari Bridge Project
First Selectman Jim Marpe provided comment on the State of Connecticut’s Department of Transportation (CTDOT) draft 2021-2024 list of projects provided to the WestCOG for their development of a draft 2021-2024 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for the SouthWestern MPO area. Included in the Town of Westport’s project list is the allocation of $20M in FY 2023 and $20M in FY 2024 for the rehabilitation/replacement of the State owned Bridge No. 01349, a/k/a William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge.
All of Connecticut’s eight MPO TIPs, along with projects scheduled for the Rural Council of Government areas in the state must be evaluated for Air Quality Conformity. The Air Quality Analysis is required pursuant Federal Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) Section 176(c) (42 U.S.C.7506(c)) and EPA conformity regulations (40 CFR 93 Subpart A) as a prerequisite for the project to be accepted into the TIP. It does not determine whether or not a project will be included in the final TIP. The draft list includes estimates totaling approximately $1.6B in Federal and State funding for five major road and dozens of transit and repair projects in the region. As a result, the Cribari Bridge rehabilitation/replacement project may or may not be placed onto the TIP.
Mr. Marpe said, “The Town of Westport has not endorsed any plans for the Cribari Bridge and awaits a conclusion to the CTDOT Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Evaluation (EA/EIE). As a part of the EA/EIE, the DOT established a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) and met with this committee several times over the last year. DOT conducted a professional process and I am confident they have taken away the community’s sentiments and concerns about the Cribari Bridge. However, the Town of Westport neither accepts nor rejects the CTDOT’s budgeted funding of $40M over the two years until it is clear on the specific proposal for the Cribari Bridge and the community agrees on which solution is the best for the Town of Westport.”
Once the Air Quality Conformity analysis is complete, the CTDOT will release its report in April 2020. Following the release of that report, the draft TIP and the Air Quality Conformity Determination will be available for public comment and review. Public comment is not currently being accepted. It is expected that the MPO will not vote on accepting the new TIP until at least the summer of 2020.
As part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA), the EA/EIE evaluates the socio-economic and environmental impacts of various design alternatives developed to address the structural and functional deficiencies of the Cribari Bridge. The project will explore options that accommodate safe vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian, and marine travel, are resilient to the changing shoreline climate and environmental conditions, and consider the historic character of the bridge.
In August 2017, the MPO voted to delete the proposed Cribari Bridge rehabilitation/replacement funding for FY 2021/ FY 2022 at the request of the First Selectman. At the time, the CTDOT had not begun the Environmental Impact, nor clearly defined how it intended to rehabilitate the bridge. The removal of the Funding approval was delayed until the CTDOT completed a more thorough assessment with consideration of community input and consideration of the Cribari Bridge’s impact on the character of the Saugatuck neighborhood, traffic concerns and design alternatives.
In July 2018, the CT DOT organized the aforementioned Cribari Bridge PAC to assist the Department in its decision-making process for rehabilitation or replacement of the bridge. The project stakeholders provided perspectives on a variety of issues, including safety, mobility, environmental concerns, and historic considerations. The PAC reviewed several alternatives for rehabilitation, including a no-build option, and provided feedback. No decision or intent for the ultimate design of a rehabilitated or replacement bridge has been made. The PAC completed its assignment on May 8, 2019. The CTDOT is continuing coordination with other state and federal agencies as well as various stakeholders to consider specific concerns, such as the various alternatives impacts on historic properties.
The DOT is expected to issue its preliminary EA/EIE document in early 2020. Following its publication, there will be a public hearing and comment period after which CT DOT will make a recommendation of a preferred design alternative. After all public comments have been addressed by CTDOT, the complete document, including public comments received and a record of the responses will be forwarded to the Federal Highway Administration and the State Office of Policy & Management for decision.
Mr. Marpe also stated, “My staff and I will stay abreast of the air quality and environmental findings for the Cribari Bridge rehabilitation or replacement options. Thereafter, we will follow the development of the TIP closely. I am committed to keeping the residents and businesses of Westport informed in a timely manner about this very important project.”