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Warren BOS requests trusses for Kingsbury Bridge

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"Kingsbury" bridge on Rt.100 over the Mad River in Warren. Photo: Katrina Van Tyne

07/14/2006

The Warren Select Board affirmed its support for a modified truss concept for Kingsbury Bridge after a contentious debate attended by about 25 townspeople this week.

Additionally the board heard from the library subcommittee on the possible relocation of the library to the Town Hall. (See sidebar story). Both issues sparked considerable controversy.

The so-called Kingsbury truss bridge, located near the northern boundary of Warren, was built after the 1927 flood, and is badly in need of replacement, according to the Agency of Transportation (VTRANS). Back in 2000, attempts were made by VTRANS to replace the bridge with a less labor intensive girder bridge. Those efforts were stopped by a call to former Governor Howard Dean from one Warren citizen who wanted to save the old truss bridge. The governor took action and VTRANS cancelled their plans, according to Martha Evans-Mongeon, project coordinator, VTRANS structures division.  

In spite of the many safety concerns expressed by local truckers and emergency vehicle personnel, there are no plans for replacement at this time, only yearly inspections by VTRANS. When asked if the bridge was safe, Evans-Mongeon stated that VTRANS would not hesitate to close the bridge, reduce it to one lane traffic, build a temporary structure, which might remain for 10 years, or any number of options as deemed necessary. Warren is not responsible for the cost of the bridge, except as statewide taxpayers, as the bridge is located on Route 100, a state highway.  

The Select Board contacted VTRANS in 2005 about putting the Kingsbury Bridge back on the schedule for replacement. Evans-Mongeon, who came before the board in May, stated that VTRANS "was trying to get a feel for what the community would accept or not accept." The board requested that she return with cost estimates which she presented this evening.

Although she admitted that the costs are rather sketchy and subject to increases by the year 2009, which would be the earliest this project could be started, she stated that much of the road relocation, ditching, etc. associated with the 2000 plans, were eliminated. The estimate at today's prices for a steel girder bridge is around $2.25 million and for a modified truss bridge, is around $2.3 million which she described "as a wash."

Kingsbury bridge
"Kingsbury" bridge on Rt.100 over the Mad River in Warren. Photo: Katrina Van Tyne

 

However she stated that the yearly maintenance cost for the girder bridge is about $4000 per year while the maintenance of a truss bridge may be as much as four times that amount, due to more labor intensive costs of spraying for salt retention. In another context, she stated that over the years labor costs have escalated while material costs have remained the same or actually decreased with modern construction methods, thus, VTRANS bias towards building a steel girder bridge.

A lively and somewhat contentious discussion followed, with town resident Rudy Elliott expressing the most bitterness about what he sees as real safety issues.  Others agreed, as did several bikers. Resident Ellen Strauss, in referring to her preference for rebuilding a truss bridge, stated, "Putting in a scenic bridge would be very valuable to the entire community."

In other testimony the bridge was referred to as a "gateway" to The Valley when approaching from the south on Route 100. Several comments were made about how high the bridge would have to be raised to accommodate a lower pedestrian and bike path and the alternative of using old inventoried truss bridges as a replacement. Evans-Mongeon stated that these old bridges are only reserved for light, alternative transportation such as snowmobile trails, bike paths, etc. and that they would not hold up to the weight load and traffic on Route 100.

Several others commented on the long-term costs of a truss bridge, even though not directly borne by Warren residents, and the need for making Warren a more economically viable and livable community, noting that several families were moving because of the high cost of living in The Valley.

Fire Chief "Fat" Weston said, "We need to get off our butts and build something." His wife, Marlene, commenting on earlier remarks that the bridge was a tourist attraction asked, "How many people drive through that bridge, stop, and look, and say, 'What a beautiful bridge!'?"


The select board concluded by passing a motion to support VTRANS in efforts to build a modified truss bridge as was presented at the meeting. It was noted that there will be two subsequent hearings by VTRANS before any plans are formalized.  When Evans-Mongeon was asked how the town could help get the project on the fast track, she stated that having local legislators contact the agency would be the best method. Carol Hosford, local state representative, was present, taking notes, and stated that she was already working on the issue and, if re-elected, will continue to do so.

In other business, the select board okayed the request of road foreman Richard Robinson to start paving projects on Lincoln Gap and Sugarbush Access Roads ahead of schedule, to solve the heavy dust problem. This may include some closure of the roads to heavy trucks and rerouting for a period of four or five days in very hot weather to prevent pitting of the new pavement. This will be coordinated by the town administrator, Cindy Jones.

Kingsbury bridge
"Kingsbury" bridge on Rt.100 over the Mad River in Warren. Photo: Katrina Van Tyne

The name of a possible new Planning Commission member was offered for approval but, since he does not live in Warren but rather just over the line in Fayston, it was agreed that the Planning Commission should continue to re-advertise the position in the hopes of getting a Warren resident with a financial commitment to the Town to step forward.  

A town right-of-way permit was granted to Sugarbush, Inc. to complete a private sewer project with the provision that Dubois and King will inspect the final project in accordance with all state statutes.

A lengthy discussion followed between the board and Ari Sadri, general manager of the Pitcher Inn, regarding his request for the town to pay a substantially higher cost to fix a "green fiberglass electrical box in the middle of a perennial bed" which is connected to the Village Pump Station, and which is not waterproof. Although his main concerns are that it is aesthetically displeasing, the board firmly stated that aesthetics are not their concern, and referred him back to the electrician to try to work out a more cost effective and mutually agreeable solution.

The meeting was also covered by MRVTV public access TV Channel 44.

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