Newfane juggles bridge projects
NEWFANE -- While town officials mark the long-awaited opening of one bridge, they're considering the costs of repairing another span washed out by Tropical Storm Irene.
The discussions include Bridge 14 and Hunter Brook Bridge, situated a few miles apart in South Newfane.
Unlike most bridge-related issues in Newfane, the Bridge 14 replacement project has no connection to Irene's severe flooding in August 2011.
But the span, at Dover Road and Auger Hole Road beside the South Newfane General Store, was in bad enough shape that it was declared an "immediate safety hazard" in town documents last year.
"That was pre-Irene," Selectboard Chairman Jon Mack said. "For more than a decade, this had been an issue in the town. It was realized that this bridge was not in good shape."
The $2.5 million project, which included a town-authorized bond of $250,000, now is largely finished.
"The bridge is open in both directions," Mack said. "There had been one lane open throughout construction."
The Bridge 14 project began after Irene. The storm did not severely damage the former bridge, "though it did change the course of the river around it," Mack said.
A few miles west, Irene took out Hunter Brook Bridge. A log marks the former location of the span, and a temporary bridge was erected slightly downstream.
Officials expect to commission construction of a new Hunter Brook Bridge next year. Last week, Selectboard members heard about four options for the bridge's deck.
Costs ranged from $111,000 to $172,000.
"What you're looking at here is not the cost of the entire bridge -- just the deck," said Stephen Tarbox, a structural engineer with Brattleboro-based SVE Associates.
SVE is recommending the lowest-cost deck alternative. Once the Selectboard makes a choice, "I think we could have plans and specs to you in about a month to go out to bid," SVE Principal Peter Boemig said.
He added that, "as early as they could work in the spring, they could get in there and start construction."
The project's total cost is not yet clear. Federal Emergency Management Agency funding is available, though officials noted that they will have to determine whether the new bridge -- which would be 4 feet wider than the old span -- will meet with federal approval without further design tweaks.
"We're going to have to negotiate our way through this," Mack said.
Some have suggested that the new Hunter Brook Bridge should be anchored by pilings to fortify against future floods. That question again came up during the SVE presentation.
But Tarbox said "really solid" ground at the site, along with rocks, normally would rule out such construction.
"I'm not sure there's any advantage to driving piles, and I think it would be really difficult," he said.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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