Chittenden to vote on bond for bridge repair

Bridge 22 on Town Highway 23 in Chittenden has been flagged as needing repair. (Provided photo)

CHITTENDEN — Voters will decide Tuesday whether to approve an extra $150,000 needed to fix the almost 100-year-old Wildcat Road Bridge, almost a decade after it was first flagged as needing replacement. Voting will be conducted by Australian ballot between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m at the town offices. Repairing bridge #22 would guarantee Chittenden's eligibility for federal disaster assistance from FEMA for structural damage sustained during a flood. Bridges are required to be replaced according to higher FEMA standards due to increased rates of nationwide failure, according to an information packet prepared by the town. Planning to repair the bridge began in 2016, when Rutland-based Enman Kesselring Consulting Engineers was hired to provide cost estimates for replacing and realigning the new bridge. VTrans awarded a $175,000 grant for the project that must be used before December 2019. The construction job was given to the low bidder, Daniel's Construction, who agreed to install an aluminum box culvert, create a temporary bridge site while construction is ongoing, and repair and realign the bridge for $434,180. After the VTrans grant money and $109,180 from the Town Capital Improvement Plan and Bridge and Culvert Fund were subtracted from the bid, the town still needed $150,000 to pay for the bridge repair. That is the amount voters are being asked to approve when they go to the polls Tuesday. The 27-foot bridge on Town Highway 23 is 17 feet wide and runs over East Creek. It was originally built in 1919. One-hundred years of traffic, weather and floods can do a lot to a bridge, and a traffic marker placed to measure traffic over the bridge counted 782 vehicles from June 11 to July 1 this year. A release from the town detailed three inspections where the bridge was flagged for disrepair by the Agency of Transportation in 2009 during a routine inspection, which happens every two years. The bridge was deemed in need of total replacement at that time. Another inspection in 2015 recommended the bridge be "considered for replacement," this time because of a stream channel migration and damaged inlet. The last inspection, in 2017, indicated that the bridge still needed to be replaced, and said the wingwalls were damaged and stones were missing from the base. The road is ranked as a class 3 road, which means the town is required to keep it in usable condition year-round for plowing, summer maintenance, fire protection and emergency services. Additionally, the bridge is one of the town's emergency routes connecting Town Highway 23 with the Turnpike Road in Mendon.

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