Depot Street Bridge

The Depot Street Bridge in Bellows Falls.

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BELLOWS FALLS — The residents along Canal Street are going to miss Centennial Park with the construction of the new Depot Street Bridge, and some say the town should make an effort to plant new trees to replace the ones that will be cut down.

Select Board member Elijah Zimmer told fellow board members Tuesday night that residents had told him they were upset with the loss of all the trees in Centennial Park, which largely will be leveled during the construction of the bridge and a new Depot Street to provide access.

Zimmer said residents had voiced their concerns to him, and that the town’s Bike/Walk Committee had come up with a plan to create a 10-foot-wide “green strip” along the Canal Street side of the canal, for a small park.

He said the green strip would be paired with a bike path along Canal Street, which will be converted to a one-way, one-lane street once the project is completed.

Zimmer said the green strip would require the elimination of some on-street parking.

He said in addition to the green strip and the bike path, there also would be granite curb.

The new bridge is being built in a new location, about 200 feet upstream from its current spot, to avoid sharp turns that make it difficult for truck traffic.

But the new site will mean the elimination of Centennial Park, which was created on The Island, next to the Bellows Falls train station, in honor of the country’s birthday. Locals sometimes call it “Pigeon Park,” and it contains parking, as well.

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Zimmer said after the meeting there are dozens of trees in the park, and that trees could easily be planted in the 10-foot-wide strip that the Bike-Walk Committee envisions.

During the meeting, a couple of Select Board members voiced concern about replanting trees, and whether their roots would eventually threaten the integrity of the canal’s walls.

Zimmer said after the meeting that the town would make a point of working with the landscape consultant that the Vermont Agency of Transportation will be hiring for the project.

He said the area will be undergoing a transformation — not necessarily in a positive sense — by the construction project, and the town needs to work to preserve a sense of green space, or a small park for the residents.

He predicted that once construction gets underway, residents would be alarmed at the appearance of The Island, and that it would prove to be “very unpopular” unless the board acts to counter it.

In addition to the talk about landscaping, the board agreed that the new bridge should not be painted, but have a galvanized finish. The board had expressed concern about the cost of eventually repainting the bridge, or doing touch-up painting as needed. Pickup said the cost of painting the bridge in the future would be quite expensive.

Pickup said the final design of the guardrails, after concerns raised by the Rockingham Historic Preservation Commission, was still under discussion.

Contact Susan Smallheer at