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Bridge Repair Closes Rte. 12 In Barnard

Detour Will Add About Two Miles To Drive Between Routes 12 & 107

Barnard — Construction will begin Friday on the Route 12 bridge in Barnard that crosses Locust Creek, with the road likely to be closed for a month.

Kristin Higgins, the project manager for the Barnard bridge construction, said about 1,000 cars drive on that portion of Route 12 each day. This traffic will mostly be rerouted onto North Road, adding 2.1 miles to the route. Those who live along Route 12 may also choose to use West Road south of the bridge or Mount Hunger Road north of the bridge to shorten the detour. Of these, North Road has the best conditions.

The portion of Route 12 that is being closed connects the communities of Bethel and Barnard.

Tom Morse, selectboard chair in Barnard, said of the closure, “I haven’t heard any complaints from the community. It will only be a slight inconvenience.”

The $1.4 million project will replace a temporary bridge that was installed following Tropical Storm Irene, the 2011 storm that destroyed the old bridge.

Built in 1930, it created a constriction in the flooding creek which aided in its collapse.

“The old bridge would have withstood damage caused by the large amount of rain,” Morse said. “But we also had 3 large beaver dams release, and then there was a surge that came through that took out the bridge. The water got behind one of the abutments and then it collapsed into the river.”

The Vermont Agency of Transportation Agency evaluated several plans for the new bridge and proposed a safer alternative to the old construction.

The $1.4 million project includes construction, engineering oversight and inspection.

“The project is being funded 80 percent through federal funds and 20 percent through state funds,” Higgins said. “There’s no local share, so the town doesn’t have to pay anything. The money is mostly coming from the Federal Highway Administration.”

According to a construction worker, Ray Estey, who was at the site on Monday, the project is proceeding as planned.

“The state gives us 28 days for the closure,” Estey said. “During that time, we’re going to put a totally new bridge in place.”

According to Higgins, the AOT wanted to minimize inconvenience to the community as much as possible.

“We chose not to close it while the school buses were running,” she said. “It’s a four week closure, so we just put the window outside of the school year. Additionally, all the emergency services know, and we’re having an on-site meeting tomorrow (June 17) to reiterate everything so they know to go around.”

However, Joe Minerva, owner of the Barnard General Store, is not looking forward to the closure.

“It’s really going to slow down the amount of traffic that passes by the store,” Minerva said. “I’m certainly not excited about that. I hope the community can buckle down and help support the store, because we probably won’t get a lot of tourist traffic through here during that time. That said, it’s definitely a positive that the bridge is going to be fixed.”

Most of the community is in agreement about making the bridge safer.

“Along with the rest of Irene repairs, I think people look forward to having a good, safe, wider bridge which should be more resistant to a similar flooding event,” Morse said.

Traffic is expected to resume across the bridge on July 18, and the bridge work is slated to be fully completed on August 29.

Lauren Bender can be reached at lbender@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.