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Watching the process of replacing the Kingsbury iron bridge over the Mad River in Warren has been fascinating.
It has involved huge machinery and cranes and dangling the old bridge in the air, rerouting Route 100, blasting ledges and more.
The project got under way late last summer with the construction of a temporary bridge to the west of the current bridge. That process involved a fair amount of in-the-river work.
Then the old bridge was severed from its abutments, hoisted into the air and placed on the ground where it was summarily ground up – no takers having been found for historic rehabbing of the steel truss iron bridge.
Blasting continued through the winter and spring and as contractors begin the work of creating new abutments, the river had been pushed back by pylons to allow them room in which to work. For passersby the process has been rife with great visual moments.
There’s no doubt the old bridge was in disrepair and needed to be replaced, but it cannot be argued that the process (temporary bridge, remove old bridge, rebuild abutments, construct new bridge) is low impact in any sense of the word.
It is certainly not low impact in terms of disturbance of the river and impact on the river. Nor low impact in terms of traffic delays, but we’re very used to that and can expect a summer defined by those this year.
That is not to suggest that the contractor, S.D. Ireland, has been anything other than completely scrupulous about how the work is being done.
It does beg the question of whether, when our next bridge is replaced (the bridge over the Mad River by the Lareau Farm Inn/American Flatbread), as a community we should do everything possible to try to make a proposal by VTrans work.
VTrans has proposed simply closing Route 100 at the site of the bridge for three weeks and working around the clock during that time to remove the old bridge and replace it with a pre-constructed bridge. Traffic would be rerouted via other local roads.
Due consideration must be given to the businesses near the bridge and how the three weeks will impact them, but, hopefully, when the next bridge is replaced, it can be a much more low-impact project than the Kingsbury bridge replacement has been.