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Bridge Watch Meeting Minutes.
Bridge Watch Check List.
Bridge Watch Workshop¹
by John Weaver, P.E.
Discuss specific situations:
- Typical scenarios, conditions --
- What to look for --
- How to analyze the bridge for important components, discern what is secondary or sacrificial.
Discuss strategies for action --
- History and background use and development of the bridge --
- How to get help --
- Preservation tips for treating (fire, insects) wood --
Course reference: The Bridge Watch Handbook.
- How to organize --
- How to report to/advise local authorities --
- How to develop historic bridge plans and partnerships for preservation and use of covered
- A typical scenario would be a covered bridge on a town highway in Vermont. The town is
sometimes doing minimal maintenance - replacing siding, patching the roof, etc. Bridge trusses
and floor members are collecting layers of dirt, trash is piling up at joints, water is running onto
the bridge from the approaches, approach railings are missing, the bridge is not insect, fungi or
fire protected, etc.
- The most important things to look for are deterioration to the basic bridge structural
components - the trusses, floor beams, top lateral bracing between trusses, etc. These same
items are usually identified in the Vermont Agency of Transportation bridge inspection reports.
Each town office should have copies of these on hand.
- To identify the truss type and other components make reference to the Bridge Watch
Handbook and the 1995 consultant report diagrams. Remember that covered bridges were
constructed with sacrificial elements that were intended to be replaced from time to time - the
roof, floor and siding components.
- Try to establish a historical record of the use and developed uses of the bridge. Document
and verify any changes to the bridge structure to accommodate original and later uses - such as
the adding floor beams, reconstructing floors with heavier wood decks, adding arches to the
- Help in regard to a) above may come from contacts with local and state historians or long
time town residents, old photos, etc. Help in regard to bridge component identification and
analysis can be obtained from the VCBS statewide covered bridge coordinator.
- Preservation tips for treating wood can be found on the website vermontbridges.com and by
contacting the VCBS statewide covered bridge coordinator.
- How to organize and what to do depends on the size and abilities of your local Bridge Watch
group. Groups may be as small as one member or as large as ten members. Members might be
able to attempt on-site cleaning or brush removal projects or simply provide observation and
- Select board members should be contacted and consulted before attempting any significant
local activities. This may be done through the town clerk or road foremen. Report any noted
problems to the same authorities.
- Offer to help local authorities develop stategies for use and maintenance of covered bridges
in your area. Encourage town authorities to participate in the Historic Covered Bridge
Preservation Plan and The Vermont Historic Bridge Program. This Plan and Program are
products of a collaborative effort between the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the
Vermont Dept. of Historic Preservation. Through the Program funds can be secured for continual
major maintenance and rehabilitation of Vermont covered bridges. VCBS participation in all of
the above activities will help towns fulfill their portion of easements (agreements) between local
governing bodies and state agencies.
¹Workshop held 01/26/02 at: VAOT Lab Conference Room, Berlin VT.
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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267, firstname.lastname@example.org
This file posted February 20, 2002, revised June 25, 2002