Chester’s Route 103 Bridge project original decision is confirmed

CHESTER, Vt. – The Chester Selectboard revisited the “contentious” Route 103 bridge project during their April 7 meeting, reaffirming their earlier decision to keep the Palmer Bridge and replace the Thompson and Jewett Bridges with one bridge spanning the Williams River.

The question came back to the board recently through VTrans, who asked the board to confirm their original decision, which went against the VTrans recommendation in 2019 of replacing all three with one bridge.

Although the board stood by their previous decision, comments by both Board Chair Arne Jonynas and member Heather Chase reflected frustration with the process.

“I wanted it brought back up because I was hoping some revelation would happen to some of the neighbors in that area, that they would come together and try to do what’s best for the town… but I don’t see that happening,” Jonynas said.

Lee Gustafson said that he didn’t see any reason to revisit the board’s original decision.

Chase, who voted against the board’s choice in 2019 and was in favor of one bridge to replace all three, said that she voted that way because of the access from the road and felt it was the safest way to go. “I still feel that could have been the right choice,” she said and added, “It’s extremely disappointing that we find ourselves in this place…and the timing of the state coming to us is also problematic because we were going to make this decision, we should have made it back then.” She ended by saying, “It is something that’s very disappointing.”

The board confirmed that the state’s financial contribution was the same, regardless of which project was selected, although future repairs to the Palmer Bridge were unknown.

Chester resident Amy Mosher, who had been at the last board meeting requesting that the board reconfirm their 2019 decision, again spoke asking the board to reach out to the project participants with their formal decision, saying it would give her “peace of mind.”

Jonynas confirmed that they would inform the proper channels with the decision they made a year and a half ago.

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