WARDSBORO -- This town took a beating during Tropical Storm Irene, and the Gilfeather Bridge was not spared.
The aging span, however, was not part of Wardsboro’s federally funded cleanup in the wake of the August 2011 flood.
"It was partially damaged by Irene, but not enough to be FEMA-eligible," said Nancy Meinhard, Selectboard chairwoman.
So the town now has scheduled a Sept. 18 special vote to authorize up to $425,000 in borrowing to fix the bridge off Route 100. An informational session is planned for 7 p.m., Sept. 11, at the town office to explain the project and financing.
The bridge likely would have required work even if Irene had not struck, Meinhard said.
"It is deteriorating," she said. "It has pressure-treated decking that’s rotted, and it’s also loose."
Corroded steel also is an issue, Meinhard added.
"We’re trying to replace it with something a little better," she said. "We’re going to go with concrete decking."
Officials are hoping to minimize drivers’ inconvenience during the project, Meinhard said. Though the new bridge will be built in the same spot, the tentative plan is to move the current bridge to allow continued access while construction crews are on site.
The vote on a bond issue for the project is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 18 at the town office. While voters will be considering "an amount not to exceed" $425,000, Meinhard
"We are hoping that we have to borrow considerably less than that," she said.
That’s because town officials are expecting a $175,000 state grant for the bridge project. Also, there is an estimated $30,000 in town reserve funds available.
Nonetheless, Meinhard said bridge-debt payments -- which officials are trying to keep short-term to minimize interest charges -- will have an impact on the town’s taxes.
"It would have to," she said. "We’re trying to do it on a five-year repayment schedule. That’s something we’ll discuss with the voters."
Town officials want the work to start as soon as possible, though a specific schedule has not yet been set.
"It may have to wait until the spring," Meinhard said. "We’re not sure."