Lebanon Mayor Testifies on Naming of Hartford-West Lebanon Bridge

  • A view of the new bridge on Route 4 that connects White River Junction to West Lebanon on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. The bridge came one step closer to being formally named Lyman Bridge on Tuesday. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jovelle Tamayo

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/8/2017 12:06:52 AM
Modified: 2/8/2017 3:26:13 PM

Concord — A new bridge that connects West Lebanon and White River Junction moved one step closer to receiving a formal name on Tuesday.

The state Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously to recommend a bill naming the bridge on Route 4 the Lyman Bridge, after historical predecessors that spanned the Connecticut River in the area of Bridge Street in Lebanon.

“I’m feeling very optimistic that the Legislature will hear our request and pass the bill,” said Lebanon Mayor Georgia Tuttle, who spoke in favor of the measure on Tuesday.

The Lebanon City Council endorsed the name Lyman Bridge in November, after receiving input from city task force charged with narrowing down proposals for the bridge, which opened in 2015 at a cost of $10.7 million. Historical bridges that cross the river have transitionally been named for Elias Lyman, who constructed the first toll bridge connecting Lebanon and what was then Hartford, N.H. in 1804.

That bridge was torn down and replaced by a covered bridge in 1835, which was also replaced after being washed away in 1896.

“So for 215 years there has been a Lyman Bridge between Hartford, N.H. — now Hartford, Vt. — and West Lebanon,” Tuttle told the Senate committee.

But shortly after the newest bridge opened in 2015, contention broke out about what to name it.

Although the Lyman Bridge name was used historically, the name wasn’t commonly used much in the last decade, said Rep. Susan Almy, D-Lebanon, a co-sponsor of the bridge bill.

And instead, the New Hampshire Korean War Veterans Association lobbied to name the bridge for Korean War veterans, citing the bridge from New Hampshire to Vermont on Interstate 89 that honors Vietnam War veterans.

A bill with the veterans’ proposal was introduced in the state Senate last year, but Upper Valley legislators helped kill the effort so the city could have a say.

While some veterans voiced opposition to the City Council recommendation in November, no one spoke against the Lyman Bridge name on Tuesday. The hearing itself took very little time and only Tuttle and Almy presented the city’s position.

“It is extremely important as a local bridge to us and our neighbors in White River Junction,” said Almy, citing the bridge’s frequent use between the communities. “We need to go back to the old name.”

Tuttle also said the bridge plays an important educational and recreational role in the community.

There are plans for an information booth in a nearby 1.3-acre city park, and the future Mascoma River Greenway, a rail trail connecting downtown Lebanon to West Lebanon, will take cyclists and pedestrians to the area.

“This bridge, in modern times, is an integral part of our community,” Tuttle said.

The bridge bill will go next to the full Senate for a vote before being heard in the House Transportation Committee and a vote in that body. Dates of future votes haven’t been scheduled.  

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

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