Wilmington plans to elevate footbridge


WILMINGTON -- The construction company Renaud Brothers will be coming back to town to elevate both sides of the footbridge that it installed late last May.

"We cannot fight City Hall on this one," said Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy.

On Wednesday, the Selectboard was informed by Murphy of new developments involving the bridge.

After the footbridge was inspected by Agency of Natural Resources Floodplain Manager Josh Carvajal, it was determined that the bridge would need to be raised approximately two feet on one side and five feet on the other. The higher side will be the one closest to Route 9.

All parts of the bridge will need to be above the base flood elevation, Murphy explained.

"I talked to Renaud Brothers and it's not going to involve a huge process," he said. "It's just jacking up and setting up of the bridge. It's going to be happening within the next year."

The positioning of the bridge was originally questioned because ANR floodplain managers had not seen any plans before it was constructed. The bridge's engineer, Merrill Mundell, had spoken with a stream alterations engineer from ANR about the project but did not receive the necessary feedback from flood plain managers. He was under the impression that the plan for the bridge was approved.

In March, during a retroactive hearing, the Development Review Board agreed to issue the town a permit for the bridge with conditions that included meeting ANR flood plain requirements. As of Thursday, town officials were not yet sure whether the case would have to go back to the DRB.

Over the past few weeks, Mundell and Carvajal have discussed the flood hazard and bridge studies. Murphy said talks had concluded on Wednesday and the elevation would be addressed.

Murphy mentioned that the state did not require the town to have a permit for the project. However, in order for nearby property owners to receive flood insurance, the bridge would need to meet ANR regulations or FEMA would not approve insurance policies.

If the town does not elevate the bridge, property owners would not be eligible for National Flood Insurance program.

"If we left it as is, their thought process is water could back up from the footbridge and flood properties that normally wouldn't during a flooding event," said Murphy.

The town is not going to fight against ANR's findings, although Murphy said Mundell can prove there can be no back up and that water would flow or the bridge would break away.

Selectboard member Susie Haughwout asked if there would be a more complete report. She and other residents were concerned about accessibility.

Murphy said all details were not finalized yet and Mundell is currently in the process of working on plans.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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