ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – On Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, at the Rockingham Selectboard meeting, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB), a civil engineering company based out of South Burlington, presented the preliminary final design of the Depot Street Bridge project.
Presiding were VHB Project Engineers Kelly Barry and Ryan Forbes, Project Manager Scott Burbank, Community Outreach Jim Gish, Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) Project Manager Bob Klinefelter, and Historic Preservation Specialist Kyle Obenhauer.
Barry shared the project design which included plans for buried utilities. She explained that in order to accommodate underground utilities, pad-mounted transformers will be installed and necessary service connections will be added to buildings along Canal Street. Canal Street’s one-way lane will be extended to the intersection at the north.
The new pedestrian bridge will be located south of the current Depot Street Bridge. She said that it’s a prefabricated truss with a concrete deck that arrives “basically built, and they pop it in place.”
The sewer and water lines will be moved from the existing bridge to the pedestrian bridge.
The plan includes updated sidewalks, pause places, and additional parallel parking on Canal Street. A redesigned parking lot offers green space and gravel wetlands for stormwater mitigation. She said currently there are 79 parking spots, the new layout has 75. Street lighting would be added where necessary, and Barry said they would mimic the black ornamental lamp posts to the best of their ability.
She referred to the Island Park bicentennial capsule buried in 1976. Barry said plans were in place to mitigate and return the capsule so that it can be dug up as intended in 2076.
Construction begins with buried utilities in 2025, the vehicular bridge in 2026, and the pedestrian bridge in late 2026 to 2027. The parking lot and demolition of the existing bridge is scheduled for 2027.
The overall cost of this project is $11,649,901.11. The Town of Rockingham’s share is $684,514.16.
Board member Rick Cowan asked what was included in the $1.5 million right-of-way costs. Klinefelter said this was a conservative estimate on the loss of generating costs for Great River Hydro during the estimated two-month shutdown of the canal for demolition of the bridge.
Cowan also asked if it would take the full two months. Klinefelter explained that the challenge was that the majority of the arch was underwater. He said, “Obviously we will do everything we can to limit how long the dam needs to be out of service.”
Cowan said that GRH’s FERC relicensing is underway and understood there was maintenance planned.
Klinefelter said he hoped the $1.5 million was a worst case scenario, but it included a budgeted 4-hour scarcity event at $30,000/hour.
Cole said GRH is concerned about compromising the integrity of the canal wall. Barry explained the plan was to cast a new wall behind the existing one. Klinefelter said, “If there’s an opportunity [we will] coordinate the dewatering with GRH [and] significantly reduce both right of way costs and cost of demo.”
Golec asked about how the state owns the land and why the town was responsible for clean-up. Development Director Gary Fox explained the town had a continued ten-year lease indicating town responsibility for everything. He said depending on end use, if the town signed a 99 year lease with the State, it was possible the town could secure funding. Fox said timing-wise, annual EPA grants are due in October.
Board member Elijah Zimmer was “pleased with the pedestrian bridge design… [which] mimics the arch appearance and looks a lot like the [original] steel truss” and asked about the finish. Klinefelter said they recommended galvanizing for durability and recommended metalized steel with zinc coating on the vehicular bridge.
Trustee Wade Masure asked about sidewalks on the vehicular bridge. Klinefelter said there were 4-foot wide shoulders. Masure said, “Because you know people are going to walk across.”
Resident Ellen Howard asked if the pedestrian bridge would be open at all times. Klinefelter said not during demolition, but a traffic control plan for pedestrians would be in effect.
She asked about the sufficient turning radius for tractor trailer trucks at both intersections. Barry said the concern was turning right from the one-way Canal St. onto the bridge. Forbes said the intersection from the tracks into the lot did not give major concerns and Barry said the auto-turn program was conservative.
The selectboard will begin budget discussions, meeting on the first and third Tuesdays in October in the Lower Theater of the Bellows Falls Opera House at 6 p.m.