Quechee Bridge reopens SaturdayBy Christian Avard
Staff Writer | December 28,2012QUECHEE — The town of Hartford is breathing a sigh of relief.
The Quechee Bridge will reopen to traffic Saturday at 10 a.m. According to Ken Parker, Hartford Select Board chairman, the wait was worth it.
“It could not have happened at a better time than the Christmas and New Year’s week when many visitors are in the area skiing and for the holidays,” Parker said Thursday.
The Quechee Bridge is made of concrete and has a wooden top. It has the appearance of a traditional timber-framed covered bridge and crosses the Ottauquechee River. On Aug. 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused significant flooding and damage, including the village’s beloved bridge.
The bridge was stripped to its bare bones during the flooding. Sidings were torn off, and the pavement caved in on one side of the abutment and left debris behind.
Both abutments were compromised from the flooding. According to Parker, it was impossible to repair the abutments and shore up the underpinnings without running the risk of having the bridge swept away.
“Other than portions of the abutments that were there, there’s really nothing left of the old bridge,” Parker said.
The town consulted with engineers to build a new covered bridge. Dubois and King Inc. of Randolph recommended a new, 87-foot-long bridge consisting of precast concrete I-beams with a cast-in-place concrete deck, stronger abutments, and a new timber roof and sidings.
The estimated cost for a new bridge was $1.8 million, Parker said. It was financed by a $1.6 million bond passed at last year’s town meeting in Hartford and the remainder was covered in town highway funds.
Miller Construction of Windsor is repairing the bridge to its original splendor. Although the bridge will reopen to traffic Saturday, the bridge won’t be completed until the early summer.
“As we speak, they are putting on the roof of the structure, the side finishes and wooden signing,” Parker said. “They are also putting on an asphalt pavement material on both ends as you approach the bridge. The final roadway can’t be done until springtime.”
The town of Hartford had planned to open the bridge on Dec. 1, but problems arose in the bedrock and it needed to be re-engineered. The problem was rectified before the beginning of the new year.
Parker commended Miller Construction for their efforts.
“It will be a relief for the folks in Quechee who have had to detour around to the village or go from the village all the way around to get to other places. It’s been an inconvenience,” Parker said.
John Glidden, co-founder of the website Save The Covered Bridge, raised over $8,600 in T-shirt sales for Quechee Bridge restoration efforts. He is delighted the bridge will reopen and looks forward to traveling on it soon.
“The bridge was beautiful and we were sad to see it go after Irene. So many people use this bridge. We couldn’t be more happier that it’s coming back,” Glidden said.
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