Rockingham Select Board continues probe into bridge remains


ROCKINGHAM >> An investigation about disposal of the Bartonsville Bridge debris will continue after Agency of Natural Resources came to look at the town gravel pit where some of the bridge's remains were buried.

"I talked to ANR a week ago and they came down and said 'you are not suppose to bury that stuff there,'" Select Board Chairman Lamont Barnett told the Reformer.

According to Barnett, ANR determined it is a violation of state law to bury construction debris and on Tuesday, Sept. 6, the Select Board voted to move forward with the investigation and Barnett contacted the town's attorney, Steve Ankuda. The 1871 bridge was washed away by the Williams River during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The remnants of the bridge were recovered but ended up in the possession of Vermont League of Cities and Towns' Property And Casualty Intermunicipal Fund, according to Municipal Manager Wilson "Chip" Stearns.

An unknown amount of debris from the 145-year-old bridge was buried at the Rockingham gravel pit about three months ago. Stearns also "donated" about 80 feet of trusses to Tim Andrews, owner of Barns & Bridges of New England, located in Gilford, N.H. Select Board members said they had no knowledge of these actions.

"Our concern is we should have been updated when the League (Vermont League of Cities and Towns) notified the town to depose of remains of the bridge," Barnett told the Reformer. "We're not sure where all the remains went. Some came back, some were buried and some unburied."

Susan Hammond, a former member of the Select Board, addressed a letter to Stearns on July 31, and it was read aloud at last Tuesday's meeting by Bellows Falls resident and former trustee, Deborah Wright. During the meeting, Hammond noted that 20 of the lattice beams (8-foot in length with rot in the middle), some of the pressure treated beams, and some of the creosol beams have been moved to Lower Bartonsville. According the Select Board meeting minutes, Hammond stated that there were numerous meetings after Stearns got the information from VLCT to dispose of these and she felt that he should have informed the board.

According to the meeting minutes, Hammond added that Andrews took two 40-foot sections of the lattice truss and that Andrews took these apart and found they would not work for what he was intending to do. Hammond noted that Andrews sent back about 60 percent of the 40-foot sections and about 20 of the lattice. Hammond noted that this was about half of the lattice section and this was because the person hauling felt he could not fit it on the truck safely to carry it back.

Select Board member Anne DiBernardo asked what did not come back. Hammond said there were two 20-foot sections plus two 35-foot lattice sections and 300 feet of the bottom cord that was reconstructed in the 1980s,which was mostly newer material.

Barnett said he could not say much more in open session and asked board members if they wanted to seek counsel on the matter. DiBernardo said she wanted to go forth with contacting town counsel and continue to investigate because there are "too many unanswered questions."

Stearns noted that there was a motion at the last meeting to investigate this issue and when the vote was called one board member voted yes, one voted no and the other three did not vote.

The board voted to continue with an investigation of the Bartonsville Bridge debris

Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275.


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