×

State to give presentation on plans for Hartford Village Bridge

  • Ed Simpson crosses the Hartford Village Bridge to shop at Jake's Market & Deli in Hartford, Vt., on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. The Hartford Selectboard is deciding whether to close the bridge and possibly rehabilitate or replace it, due to structural deficiencies. "A lot of people use this bridge," said Simpson, who crosses every day. "It's the easiest way across the river." (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • A tow truck passes across the Hartford Village Bridge that carries VA Cutoff Road over the White River in Hartford, Vt., on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. The Hartford Selectboard is deciding whether to close the bridge and possibly rehabilitate or replace it, due to structural deficiencies. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Edward Preble crosses the Hartford Village Bridge to get to the bus stop in Hartford, Vt., on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. The Hartford Selectboard is deciding whether to close the bridge and possibly rehabilitate or replace it, due to structural deficiencies. "That would screw up my schedule for sure, because I don't have a car," said Preble. "It's super convenient with the bus stop right here." (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — While the scope of one significant roadway project in Hartford is just coming to light, another continues to drag on years after being approved.

The Selectboard is slated to hear a presentation from the Vermont Agency of Transportation regarding the need to renovate or replace the Hartford Village Bridge on VA Cutoff Road, a structure first built 90 years ago that hasn’t undergone major reconstruction since 1973.

Meanwhile, the design phase for a project approved in 2003 to install a traffic rotary at the intersection of Route 5 and Sykes Mountain Avenue, as well as a smaller roundabout about 400 feet away at the corner of Sykes Avenue and Ralph Lehman Drive, remains stalled, in part because of some landowners’ unresponsiveness to requests for land takings required for the project.

A planned presentation by AOT scoping engineer Laura Stone — postponed from Tuesday night’s Selectboard meeting due to inclement weather — highlights structural deficiencies in the 559-foot-long Hartford Village Bridge, including rusting superstructure membranes, heavy cracking and staining to its concrete deck and backwalls, cracking on its sidewalk and other issues.

The superstructure of the bridge, which crosses the White River, is listed in poor condition by the state, according to Stone, while its substructure and deck are considered satisfactory with needed maintenance.

“The biggest problem with the bridge is the superstructure,” Stone said in a Wednesday phone interview. “There are holes in the membranes and a lot of rusting.”

Stone’s presentation lists options for the town to consider under the Town Highway Bridge Program, which uses state and federal money to cover most of the costs for projects on town bridges that are at least 20 feet long.

While the scoping study is not finalized, Stone’s report lists project options ranging from around $8.1 million for a deck replacement with an off-site detour and no sidewalk, to $13.9 million for a full bridge replacement with a sidewalk and shoulders while traffic is maintained on the existing bridge. The town would be responsible for between 2.5 and 10 percent of project costs, with a flat rate of 80 percent covered by federal funding sources and the difference paid for by the state, Stone said.

Currently, the bridge contains 11-foot-wide travel lanes and no shoulders, with a nearly 5-foot-wide sidewalk. Hartford Public Works Director Hannah Tyler would like to see it widened to become more bicycle friendly. Vermont state standards call for 3-foot shoulders, or 4-foot shoulders for shared use with cyclists and pedestrians.

The AOT projects 3,900 vehicles per day to use the bridge by 2021, two years prior to when the state has slated the project for construction. Some residents of the neighborhood south of the bridge also use it to access amenities such as the Hartford Post Office, the Hartford Public Library, a convenience store and a bus station on Route 14.

“The bridge is extremely narrow right now,” Tyler said. “If there’s a bicycle and two vehicles on at the same time, it’s not very conducive for safe travel. But the project is still in the evaluation stage and there are a lot of factors that will go into deciding what happens, including whether to rehabilitate the existing bridge or to replace it. There will be input from the town and we’ll have a chance to take a closer look at the deficiencies and the expenses involved.”

Stone’s presentation likely will be rescheduled for sometime in March, after the arrival of incoming Town Manager Brannon Godfrey, who will succeeding Leo Pullar on March 4.

Meanwhile, plans approved by the Hartford Selectboard more than 15 years ago for a pair of rotaries near the intersection of Route 5 and Sykes Mountain Avenue have experienced longer than usual delays in part because of town staff turnover, according to project manager Scott Robertson, an engineer for AOT.

Project leaders now are having difficulty communicating with some of the owners of 13 land parcels who may be required to sell property for the project. The specter of condemnation — eminent domain — was broached during recent conversations with the state, Tyler said, a topic covered during Pullar’s report to the Selectboard on Tuesday night.

Pullar, Tyler and Robertson all expressed reluctance to pursue condemnation and suggested that the next step should be increased communication efforts that could involve face-to-face meetings.

“We as a staff — and even the Selectboard — should take the opportunity to engage with property owners about this,” Pullar said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Appraisals for the affected properties have been performed and mailings were sent out about three months ago to begin acquisition negotiations, Robertson said.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.