Wilmington footbridge lifted to meet flood guidelines

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WILMINGTON — Renaud Brothers Construction returned downtown to raise the footbridge not in line with flood guidelines.

"Someone told me they were going to lift up the bridge and set it aside then work on the abutments of both side," said Town Manager Scott Murphy. "Then at that time, they'll load or reset the bridge."

The same company installed the bridge — located on property at 29 Shafter Street and 36 Main Street that crosses the Deerfield River — back in May 2013. A former floodplain manager from the Agency of Natural Resources later told the town that all parts of the structure need to be above the base flood elevation.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the term is used to describe the "computed elevation to which floodwater" is expected to rise during a base flood. These elevations are shown on flood insurance rate maps, included in flood profiles and used for floodproofing structures.

"The relationship between the BFE and a structure's elevation determines the flood insurance premium," states FEMA.gov.

While ANR does not issue permits, Wilmington's Economic Development Consultant Gretchen Havreluk previously said FEMA could put the town out of insurance if the bridge was not raised.

Murphy expects a representative from ANR will show up at some point. He said they wanted to check on the process, not necessarily say anything about it.

The project was scheduled to begin last Friday but Murphy said the company's crane was stuck on a Green Mountain Power job in Searsburg.

"They're down there now," he said Monday morning. By approximately 11 a.m., he reported seeing a crane in the air.

The side closest to Main Street and Route 9 is going to be raised "pretty high," Murphy noted.

"We hope to correct it once we get it in place," he said. "We had our engineer Merrill Mundell do some shots for the bridge."

The bridge's positioning was called into question after Mundell had spoken with an ANR engineer specializing in stream alterations but did not receive feedback from a floodplain manager.

Officials hope the project will come in under $5,000. The bridge, known as Reardon's Crossing, was donated by Barry Reardon but the town owns it.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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