Workers inspect the Interstate 91 bridge over Route 30 in Brattleboro, in this 2010 file photo. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
Workers inspect the Interstate 91 bridge over Route 30 in Brattleboro, in this 2010 file photo. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
BRATTLEBORO -- A bridge that has spanned the West River for more than 50 years will soon come down.

According to the Vermont Ageny of Transportation, the Interstate 91 bridge that crosses the West River and Route 30 will be replaced, a process that is in its initial phase.

The design/build project could begin as soon as 2013, said Mike Hedges, structures program manager for AOT.

On a scale of 0 to 9, said Hedges, the West River bridge is rated a 4.

That means by national standards, the bridge is structurally deficient, but that doesn't mean it's unsafe, he said.

"It's on a watch list and a two-year inspection cycle," said Hedges.

Last summer, AOT hired a special bridge inspection team to evaluate the bridge, which concluded the steel needs work, there is some section loss in some of the members and pins on the structure are showing wear around them, said Hedges.

Project Manager Todd Sumner said the new bridge could cost between $35 and 45 million, but that's better than spending money on the continued maintenance of an aging bridge.

"We did a rough estimate internally, replacing the deck, repainting the steel and reinforcing and replacing gussett plates and other steel areas, it would cost about $30 million to rehabilitate a less-than-ideal bridge," said Sumner.

Though there is no existing record of how much the bridge originally cost, he said $5 to $7 million is a pretty good estimate.

The first step in the process is for AOT to issue a request for qualifications. After the RFQ deadline, AOT will cull through the applications, determine which companies are truly capable of taking on the massive project and then issue a request for proposals from the remaining companies.

We'll have a full report in tomorrow's Reformer.