Meeting on closure of Vail Bridge stirs concerns

Vail Bridge. Photo by Kyle Laurita-Bonometti

LUDLOW, Vt. – The Monday, June 6, 2022 Ludlow Selectboard meeting saw a presentation by VTrans on the replacement of the Ludlow Village Bridge #26, also known as Vail Bridge, at the Ludlow Town Hall, amid concerns by local citizens that the closure of the bridge would reroute dangerous traffic across residential streets.

VTrans began the meeting with a slideshow detailing how construction crews from Cold River Bridges, LLC will begin mobilizing to work on Vail Bridge after July 4, 2022; the bridge will be closed for 21 days beginning in September 2022 with a slated completion date of, and no later than, October 2022. The presentation spoke to several specifics on building and costs, describing how the bridge will look more or less like it does currently and how the entire replacement and rehabilitation will cost $2.7 million. VTrans spoke to how the original abutments, built in 1931, will be kept and how they are still reviewing proposals by the construction company, but the majority of questions voiced by the public were in regard to the detours that will be forced by the bridge construction, and what the state plans to do to deter large trucks from taking shortcuts up High and Pleasant Street.

The state department responded to citizen concerns by saying that trucks will be instructed to take a much longer throughway along state routes 103 and 100, but that they did not have the authority to commandeer town roads. This seemed to do little to assure residents, one of whom stated, “It’s obvious that you don’t have answers to the questions we’re asking; we need another meeting.” Other issues voiced included whether the state would compensate business owners for damages incurred by foot traffic and construction crews who opted for the convenience of walking through or parking at locations like Lamere Square.

Despite the initial backlash, the selectboard seemed able to quell some controversy by assuring those in attendance that they would be talking to the state about signage for a local detour, the thought being that this would curb some of the traffic on Pleasant Street and Dug Road. The selectboard reminded the public that the town faced similar issues during the Walker Bridge replacement three years ago and that they got through it. “We have been discussing this for two years,” said Board Chair Bruce Schmidt. He went on to say that the board decided that a complete shutdown of the bridge for 21 days was preferable to having one lane open for a year. Schmidt assured the crowd, “We’ve been through this before, we’ll get through it again.”

According to Municipal Manager Scott Murphy, the selectboard will most likely announce any forthcoming information about detours in town at a regular board meeting and post it on the town’s website.

The Ludlow Selectboard meets on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall Conference Room.

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