Tanks to be cleared for new bridge

Work on the Hinsdale-to-Brattleboro bridge is expected to start sometime next year and stretch through 2022.

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BRATTLEBORO — A major obstacle to the construction of a new bridge connecting Hinsdale, N.H., to Brattleboro will be addressed at the Brattleboro Development Review Board meeting on Nov. 20.

Representatives from Barrows & Fisher will be presenting plans to remove six storage tanks and replace them with six new ones at 55 Depot St., the site along the Connecticut River where the new bridge is expected to land.

"The project will rearrange the site to accommodate the bridge," wrote Brattleboro Zoning Administrator wrote in an email to the Reformer. "The project will construct a new foundation for the largest tank on the site. It's my understanding that this is at least in part to insure the tank is stable throughout the project."

Jonathan Griffin, the VTrans project manager for the bridge project, wrote in an email that he has been working to coordinate the efforts on the Vermont side of the river in order to advance the bridge project.

"The item you pulled from the Development Review Board Agenda is part of the ongoing [right-of-way] process to relocate the horizontal tanks owned by Barrows & Fisher outside of the new bridge easements, Griffin wrote. This is an important step in the [right-of-way] process as the horizontal tanks need to be relocated prior to construction of the bridge."

Griffin said he, representatives from Barrows & Fisher and their engineer will be in attendance at the Development Review Board meeting to discuss the proposal.

"Once the new tanks have been constructed, the existing tanks can be decommissioned and progress on the new bridge can be advanced," Griffin wrote

Barrows & Fisher hopes to build one 20,000-gallon tank and five 15,000-gallon tanks, all above-ground.

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The plan also calls for a new loading rack facility. Because the site is in the town's Waterfront District, Barrows & Fisher will also need a Flood Hazard Conditional Use permit from the DRB.

The $42-million Hinsdale-to-Brattleboro bridge project has been in the works since 1996, when the first bridge committee was established. In 2013, the project's environmental impact assessment was approved, which allowed the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to enter its final design stages. The bridge is expected to be open to the public sometime in 2022.

The project will replace the existing twin truss bridges Route 119 — the Anna Marsh Hunt Bridge and the Charles Dana Bridge, which have connected Hinsdale and Brattleboro since 1926 — and replace them with an 1.800-foot, continuous span about 300 feet south of the current bridges. The new bridge will land on the Vermont side just south of the parking lot for 28 Vernon Street, the property formerly known as the Marlboro College Graduate Center until Renaud Brothers purchased it in August of 2018. The pier for the bridge on the Vermont side will be located on property currently owned by Barrows & Fisher and the new bridge will "fly over" the tank farm.

On the New Hampshire side, access to the new bridge will begin about 1,000 feet south of the current crossing on Route 119, slightly east of George's Field, where Runnings is located. There will also be a supporting pier on the southern tip of what is locally known as The Island. While The Island is under the ownership of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, the state hopes to convey ownership to Hinsdale. However, the town of Hinsdale has been reticent to accept ownership because it is concerned about the associated costs of maintaining the island and the two closed bridges.

According to Robert Landry, administrator for the N.H. Department of Transportation's bridge design division, construction costs for the new bridge are $33.5 million for New Hampshire and $8.5 million for Vermont. In addition, the rehab of the existing bridges is expected to cost Vermont $1.4 million and New Hampshire $6.6 million. The two states hope the cost will be offset by a $25 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant, not yet approved, from the federal government.

Once the new bridge is opened to traffic, the Anna Marsh Hunt Bridge and the Charles Dana Bridge will remain open to pedestrians and emergency vehicles but will be closed to regular traffic.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.