BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – During a recent Rockingham Selectboard meeting, Municipal Manager Chip Stearns said he believed that the Bridge Street Bridge in Bellows Falls could be near failure level.
At the Oct. 4 session, he said that the bridge could close if it is, and questioned the continuance of the restoration project for the span.
At the meeting, Selectboard member Stefan Golec asked if any of the businesses that use the bridge have been notified of its condition, and Stearns stated that these businesses would be notified.
Selectboard Chair Lamont Barnett asked about the possibility of a Bailey bridge, a type of portable, pre-fabricated, truss bridge, should the bridge close, and Stearns indicated that he would be checking into the idea.
Stearns stated that there is an 8-inch hole on the bridge surface, and the underside has “icicles made of salt” hanging down.
He added that the bridge has already had $100,000 used for repair, and said that it could cost the town up to $250,000 more just to cover up exposed rebar on the bridge.
Selectboard member Peter Golec stated that this is like “using good money after bad,” and the rest of the board echoed his sentiment and questioned the continuance of the project.
Selectboard Member Ann DiBernardo suggested that the municipal manager speak to engineering firm Cota and Cota concerning this issue.
As discussions continue on bridges in the area, there is a 2013 Federal Highway Administration report that states in part that the U.S. is home to more than 66,700 structurally deficient bridges and 84,748 functionally obsolete bridges.
With the bridge inspector’s approval of the bridge, restoration is expected to continue.