TOWNSHEND -- Vermont's longest covered bridge is going to be rehabilitated.
The Agency of Transportation will hold a public meeting Monday, June 30, at 6 p.m. in the Townshend town offices to talk about newly released plans for the 144-year-old Scott Covered Bridge.
The 277-foot bridge over the West River has been closed to pedestrians since February 2012, when inspectors found extensive rot in the Town Lattice spans and almost total loss of structural support at the bearing of the south truss over piers two and three.
Since then the state has been unwilling to come with a plan, or the money, to secure the bridge.
Agency of Transportation Project Manager Doug Bonneau said the agency has now included the Scott Bridge project on its 2016 construction season list, and the agency will be looking for legislative approval next year to fund the approximately $2 million project.
The meeting in Townshend Monday will give the public an opportunity to look at the plans and ask questions about the project.
"This project has been identified by the agency and we want to move forward with it," Bonneau said. "It is the longest covered bridge that is entirely within the state of Vermont. It is an important structure for the state."
Bonneau said VTrans will be looking for money for the project within its state wide Town and Highway Bridge program.
The Division of Historic Preservation owns the bridge, but VTrans maintains it.
Bonneau said the bridge will be completely rehabilitated with a new floor, new siding and a new roof.
He said work will probably be done during the 2016 construction season.
The Scott Covered Bridge was built in 1870 and over the past century there have been a number of different upgrades to the structure.
In 1915 concrete was applied to the piers and in 1961 steel beams were put under the center span.
The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 1955, but remained open for pedestrians until 2012.
Windham Regional Commission Senior Planner Matt Mann said it was encouraging to get the news that the state was going to move forward with the project.
Over the past few years transportation dollars have been very tight, and Mann said even though there was no shortage of projects across the state it was important to preserve this important historic structure.
"This is an historical asset to the Townshend community and to the whole state," Mann said. "In these days of really tight budgets its great to be able to find the dollars to maintain and rehabilitate this historic structure. This is a great opportunity to open the bridge back up for pedestrians."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.