Chester and VTrans discuss options for bridges construction

bridges
VTrans’ recommended option for Thompson Bridge 62. Photo provided

CHESTER, Vt. – Chester Selectboard, representatives from VTrans, and residents of Chester attended an informational meeting Thursday, Aug. 29 regarding options for the rehabilitation or new construction for several bridges in Chester, specifically Bridge 62, Thompson Bridge, and Bridges 14 and 16 over the Williams River on Route 103.

Laura Stone, Jonathan Griffin, Carolyn Cota, and Wendy Pelletier were present from VTrans to present alternatives for Thompson Bridge, which connects Thompson Road to Route 103 over the Williams River. Thompson Road is a local, unpaved road. The Thompson Bridge is currently a 41-foot span timber deck on rolled steel beams. The end of the bridge is in close proximity to the intersection of Route 103 and too close to the river to allow for standard turning at the intersection.

A temporary bridge was installed in 2018 as the bridge is structurally deficient and does not meet the minimum standards for width or railing. There is also heavy rusting and flaking underneath the bridge and the river is impacted or “stressed” due to temperature, sediment, and road encroachment.

The options for the bridge include rehabilitation, full-replacement on-alignment with the current structure, or full replacement off-alignment with the potential to remove up to two other bridges – Jewett and Palmer.

A rehabilitation of the current bridge would have a 20-year design life and would include repairing the rolled beams and adding a 14-foot rail-to-rail width that would meet the standard and match with existing bridge. The cost would be 2.5 to 5% local share depending on the maintenance of traffic.

A full bridge replacement on-alignment would have a 75-year design life and have an 18-foot total clearance for traffic with all-new bridge components. The local share of the cost would be 5 to 10% depending on traffic maintenance. Due to the width of the bridge, a partial closure during construction is not applicable. The options would include a temporary bridge off-alignment or utilizing one of the other bridges and a detour through adjacent fields.

A full bridge replacement off-alignment would relocate the bridge either up or downstream from its current location, which would improve the turning radius by utilizing more land between the bridge and Route 103. It would have a 75-year design life. The off-alignment option would include removing the current Thompson Bridge, and there are options to also remove bridge 72 or remove bridges 72 and 28.

The local share of the cost would be 10% of the total project expenses.

The option that eliminates all three bridges with a new off-alignment bridge would cost $1.8 million with a local share of $182,200 and could have savings in future maintenance as only one bridge would remain. VTrans recommends this option. There would need to be a right of way from the landowners and an archaeological study – to begin once the Selectboard makes their decision – to move forward with this option. The construction would begin in 2023.

Local residents expressed their concerns with the removal of all three bridges and urged the Selectboard to choose a cost-effective, permanent fix for the Thompson Bridge.

More information about Bridge 62 can be found at www.outside.vermont.gov/agency/vtrans/external/Projects/Structures/12J616.

The meeting turned to the scoping report for bridges 14 and 16 on Route 103 North. Both bridges are owned by the state of Vermont. Bridge 14 is structurally deficient with deterioration the deck, rusting, and corrosion from years of joint leaking, etc. The bridge has a substandard width for two lanes plus shoulders. Bridge 16 has advanced deterioration of the deck, cracking and abrasion damage, as well and a substandard width.

VTrans has selected a full bridge replacement with a 100-year design life, adding the 10-12-12-10-foot clearance. The bridge is 361 feet long and would take two to three years to complete construction.

For Bridge 16, VTrans selected a deck replacement with repairs to the existing structure and widening the clearance. The bridge would have a 40-year design life. Construction on the 162-foot bridge would be complete in one construction season.

As both bridges are too narrow for phased construction, they will be closed during construction and temporary bridges will be built at both locations. Only one bridge will require a right of way for the location of the temporary bridge and VTrans will be meeting with the property owners.

More information about Bridge 14 can be found at www.outside.vermont.gov/agency/vtrans/external/Projects/Structures/12B580 or www.outside.vermont.gov/agency/vtrans/external/Projects/Structures/16B002 for Bridge 16.

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