Hartford bridge replacement to start in 2023; structure may be closed for a year

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/13/2019 9:49:01 PM

HARTFORD VILLAGE — Transportation officials say the VA Cutoff Bridge that connects routes 4 and 14 in Hartford Village could be closed for a year beginning in the summer of 2023 as crews replace the 96-year-old structure.

Construction is expected to impact about 3,900 motorists who make the daily commute over the bridge, according to the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Vehicles will instead be detoured 3 miles through White River Junction.

While the construction will temporarily hamper traffic, it is necessary to provide long-term access across the White River, Hartford Town Manager Brannon Godfrey said on Tuesday. The new bridge could last 100 years and prevent crews from having to make frequent repairs, he said.

“The travel path carries a fair amount of traffic, and we believe it’s an important crossing to maintain,” Godfrey said in a phone interview.

The bridge replacement is expected to cost $14.4 million, but VTrans would pick up 95% of the costs under its bridge program, Godfrey said. That leaves Hartford’s share around $720,000.

Godfrey said the 559-foot bridge, which was first build in 1929 and last rehabilitated in 1973, is considered structurally deficient because of deterioration of its superstructure, the portion of a bridge that supports the span.

He said the Selectboard and VTrans discussed several options to fix the bridge before settling on a replacement in July. That replacement will begin on VA Cutoff Road in the south but then veer east of the current bridge to intersect with Christian Road in the north. The new alignment has several safety advantages over the current bridge, including better sight distances and easier turns, Godfrey wrote in a July 2 letter to the Selectboard.

The new bridge also would eliminate the intersection where VA Cutoff Road meets Route 14 and replace it with a four-way intersection at Christian Street, which could reduce the number of traffic conflicts in the area, he added.

Godfrey said drivers could expect changes at Christian Street, where a curb now separates traffic turning onto Route 14. But, he said, those changes haven’t been discussed yet.

Tony Gove, who owns land just north of the bridge, said it’s a good idea to replace the bridge. However, he expressed some concern over traffic.

“It’s going to be inconvenient for people to go around if they just rip the bridge out and put a new bridge in,” Gove said in a phone interview.

Meanwhile, former Selectboard member Matt Bucy, applauded the proposed connection to Christian Street, saying it makes more sense than the current configuration.

Bucy, who owns property near the bridge, said a closing wouldn’t bother him. The span was once closed for an entire summer for repairs, and state officials worked on the bridge for about a week this winter, he said.

“The old bridge is definitely at the end of its life,” he said.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

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