DUMMERSTON -- After a few false starts, officials finally are ready to proceed with repairs at Dummerston's historic covered bridge.
Selectboard members on Thursday gave preliminary approval to award a $234,820 construction bid to Renaud Brothers Inc. of Vernon.
Some paperwork remains, but officials expect work to begin shortly barring any further, unforeseen delays.
"Best-case scenario, it could be by the end of next week," Selectboard Chairman Lewis White said.
While the bridge itself is structurally sound, the project involves repairs to the 140-year-old span's "wing walls," described as support walls for approaches. An erosion problem was noted a few years ago.
It appears that the repair job now will be awarded to the company that initially uncovered that erosion problem, as Renaud submitted the lowest of four bids opened Thursday by the Selectboard.
The next-lowest bid was a $238,620 offer submitted by Bernie LaRock & Son Inc. of Guilford, followed by a $240,750 bid sent by Willey Earthmoving Corp. of Windsor.
By far, the highest bid was submitted by Maine-based T Buck Construction, which offered to do the job for $373,500.
The board voted to give Renaud the project pending an analysis by the town's engineer.
That's a significant step, since town officials have struggled to get the project going even though they have a $200,000 transportation-enhancement grant in hand.
But an initial round of bids came in higher than expected. So the board worked to develop a funding plan that covered bridge costs while still preserving the town's West River Crossing Fund.
Then came another complication: The previous low bidder, it turned out, did not possess the proper state qualification to perform the bridge project.
That necessitated another round of bids, which were due Thursday.
The delays mean that the bridge work almost inevitably will affect school bus routes. But officials said they don't expect long-term disruption.
"It will probably last a couple weeks into the school year," White said.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.