BRATTLEBORO — Over the past two months some drivers have had to reroute their travels, but now that construction of the Elliot Street Bridge is complete, operators can return to their original route.
This bridge, which crosses the Whetstone Brook, was originally constructed in 1946, but 68 years later, in 2014, a hole developed in the deck of the bridge, a repair that was estimated to cost anywhere between $500,000 to $1 million, according to Director of Public Works Steve Barrett. Thanks to many people working together and tools such as the Accelerated Bridge Program, which was created and endorsed by Vermont's Agency of Transportation, the project was able to be completed in a timely manner without breaking the bank.
"The construction work of the contractor, Renaud Brothers, must be praised," stated a press release from the Town Manager's Office. "Renaud Brothers and their personnel did fast and excellent work, ensuring that the Elliot Street Bridge was only closed as long as necessary, beginning on June 27, with the work needed to repair the bridge being completed on schedule, within two months, on Aug. 26, before schools reopened on Tuesday, Aug. 30."
The total cost for the bridge repair was $512,893, with VTrans funding 97.5 percent of the project and the town covering the local match of $13,151. With that money, not only was the hole repaired but according to Barrett, the bridge is now wider in length, allowing more room for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles to pass over in both directions.
The bridge was originally designed for two-lane traffic, but Barrett said it was created at a time when vehicles were smaller in size. He also added that the bridge is now much more "attractive," noting the railings that are much higher and meet state safety regulations.
Travelers were forced to use alternate routes for the past two months such as the Main Street bridge, Elm Street, the Williams Street Bridge, Citizens Bridge or even Interstate 91.
"Anytime you shut any of those off, it has a big impact on the others," Barrett said.
Given that the Elliot Street Bridge was one of a few ways to cross the Whetstone Brook and make it from the north to south side of town, Barrett said there was an obvious amount of congestion on Canal Street during the Elliot Street Bridge closure.
"I want to thank everyone for their patience. I think a lot of people in town realize how well-used that bridge was when it was closed," said Barrett.
Barrett said that within minutes of the bridge's opening, people began crossing over it. He added that he has noticed a smoother flow of traffic since its opening.
The press release from the Town Manager's Office emphasized that bridge completion was the result of collaborative work by many agencies and individuals. The press release mentioned the "noteworthy" leadership of Vermont Secretary of Transportation Chris Cole and his Agency's innovative program that gives priority to expedited bridge deck replacement projects. Also instrumental were the efforts of Vermont Agency of Transportation Project Manager Jennifer Fitch, who spent "significant" time and effort managing and overseeing the planning and implementation of this project from her home office in Montpelier, as well as VTrans resident engineer Chad Greenwood and local VTrans District 2 staff.
Various town of Brattleboro staff members actively participated in this project, such as Barrett and Hannah O'Connell from the Department of Public Works. Both of them were the town's project representatives and conducted daily site visits. Other DPW employees upgraded surrounding water and sewer lines, and installed and maintained signage for the project. Regional utility companies also cooperated by expediting relocation of power and communication lines, an effort that was coordinated locally by Joe Newton of the Brattleboro Fire Department.
"The progress and completion of the Elliot Street Bridge deck replacement project shows how important it is to maintain solid working relationships between the town of Brattleboro and the state of Vermont," said Brattleboro Select Board Chairman David Gartenstein. "Brattleboro faces significant infrastructure needs as we continue our work to support and serve as the engine for southern Vermont's regional economy. We thank our partners at the Agency of Transportation for their hard work and efforts in making this project a success,"
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 285