The Dummerston Covered Bridge was damaged by a truck driver over the weekend. (Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
The Dummerston Covered Bridge was damaged by a truck driver over the weekend. (Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
Tuesday April 2, 2013

DUMMERSTON -- Officials plan to assess the damaged Dummerston Covered Bridge this morning; meanwhile police have charged the driver of a moving truck with leaving the scene of an accident after the vehicle struck the historic span.

Police said 23-year-old William Miller of Dummerston was driving the truck as part of his employment in collecting sap for his family's farm, and didn't realize the height restriction on the bridge as he attempted to cross it Sunday.

The bridge remained open for travel in the wake of Sunday's incident. Dummerston Selectboard Chairman Zeke Goodband on Monday said the damage was cosmetic, and officials said the 141-year-old bridge is structurally sound.

"At least it doesn't appear to be anything major," Goodband said after surveying the damage.

State police said they were alerted at 5:41 p.m. Sunday that a Budget rental truck had hit the bridge, which carries East-West Road over the West River. The 280-foot structure is billed as Vermont's longest covered bridge that remains in use.

Troopers found "fresh damage and debris" at the scene. Investigation showed that, at about 5:15 p.m., the large box truck had scraped cross beams as it traveled across the bridge.

At the portal, the truck shattered a cross beam and tore trim, police said.

The truck then stopped briefly on Camp Arden Road, but police said Miller "subsequently left the scene without reporting the incident."

Miller is scheduled to be arraigned on May 7.

Police said they notified town officials, who on Sunday evening deemed the bridge safe.

Goodband said Dummerston Road Foreman Lee Chamberlin and Mike Renaud of Vernon-based Renaud Brothers Inc. will meet this morning to "take a closer look" at what repairs will be necessary.

He added that the town will submit a police report to the Vermont League of Cities & Towns, which acts as Dummerston's insurer.

"The bridge is specifically covered under the town's insurance policy," Goodband said.

Renaud Brothers last year handled repairs to the bridge's wing walls, which are support walls for approaches.

Though town officials ran into several financial and administrative complications that delayed the start of that project, Renaud was praised for finishing the job "way ahead of deadline" so that school buses did not have to be rerouted.

The bridge was closed for about a month and reopened in late August.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.

[Editor's note: This story was updated since it appeared in print.