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The Historic Bridge Restoration Funding Law.


Senator Jeffords Holds Press Conference

CAMBRIDGE, VT, August 22, 2000 - Senator James Jeffords held a press conference in the Town of Cambridge, Vermont for the purpose of again announcing the $1 million earmarked for Cambridge's Junction and Thetford's Union Village covered bridges, and to announce the $10 million for the National Historic Covered Bridge Program for this year and the next.

Senator Jeffords press conference:
Photo by Cindy Faith, 8/22/00
Senator Jeffords presents his funding plan for the Junction Bridge. Behind him are Joe Nelson (left) and Bill McKone.

         The event was held at the Cambridge Junction Bridge in response to a request by the Vermont Covered Bridge Society for an opportunity to honor the Senator for his efforts to preserve the countries historic covered bridges.
         After the Senator spoke (see below for the text), Micque Glitman, Vermont Assistant Secretary of Transportation, discussed the state's role in covered bridge preservation and unveiled the time line for rehabilitation of the Cambridge Junction Bridge.
Senator Jeffords press conference:
Photo by Cindy Faith, 8/22/00
Eric Tobin presents his painting of the Junction Bridge to the Senator.

         The $1 million provided for the bridge should be received by the Vermont Agency of Transportation in August and will be immediately available to allow steps to be taken to ensure that the bridge survives the winter. An estimated $200,000 will be spent on the first phase of the project; to stabilize the structure against heavy snow load or additional ice damage.
         William McKone, Cambridge resident and VCBS Secretary, spoke of the bridge's importance to the people and township of Cambridge. He introduced area artist Eric Tobin who presented a painting of the bridge to the Senator. McKone then presented State Senator Susan Bartlett (D) and State Representative Rich Westman (R) with Honorary Life Memberships in recognition for the work they did with the state to rescue the bridge.
Jeffords press conference: Photo by Cindy Faith, 8/22/00
Bill McKone presents VCBS memberships to Susan Bartlett and Rich Westman.

         Joseph Nelson, VCBS president, made the Senator a member of the society, presenting him with Honorary Life Membership Card number 1, and a signed copy of Nelson's book, Spanning Time: Vermont's Covered Bridges.
         Others in attendance, but not speaking were Erik Gilbertson, Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, and Robert McCullough, UVM and VAOT's Historic Bridge Program.

Statement of Senator James Jeffords at the Cambridge Junction Covered Bridge Press Conference:

         I am pleased to announce that the US Department of Transportation will be cutting a check for $1 million for the purpose of rehabilitating the Cambridge Junction Covered Bridge.
         There are many people, some of whom are here today, that deserve praise for getting this great project off the ground. Lamoille Senator Susan Bartlett, Representative Rich Westman of Cambridge, Micque Glitman, Emily Wadhams, Erik Gilbertson, Bill McKone, Joseph Nelson, and Ed Barna have all played vital roles in preserving Vermont's historic covered bridges.
         Since the day I joined your crusade to preserve America's dwindling historic covered bridges, I have been asked "What is so special about covered bridges?" These spans are a testament to the ingenuity and enduring qualities of our ancestors and, indeed, our American heritage. The ideas, discoveries and deeds of men like Vermonter Nicholas Powers revolutionized bridge building at the time, and their influence remains in many of the designs of today's modern bridges.
         These bridges have courageously stood the test of time, but due to decades of neglect, we need to act now to make sure they survive well into the future.
         Even in Vermont, whose residents have made a mission of preserving their historic covered bridges, less than 100 remain from what was over 500 only a century ago.
         As resilient as these legendary structures are, there are many dangers. Without proper maintenance, accurate information or sufficient resources, the townships and counties that own these bridges have not been able to properly maintain them. Man and mother nature alike have also taken their toll. Arson, flooding, and snow and ice have all claimed many victims through the years.
         Five years ago, Vermonters like Ed Barna and Joe Nelson brought these issues to my attention. I stood in Northfield with Glenn Gershaneck in 1998 and announced my intentions to take action. Later that same year introduced, and Congress passed, the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Act. I then secured 10 million dollars nationwide and 2 million dollars for Vermont last year. And this year, another 10 million dollars has been set aside for the preservation of historic covered bridges.
         The National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Act provides funds for two important initiatives. First, the bulk of the money is designed to fund covered bridge restoration efforts that implement historically appropriate methods of rehabilitation. Second, the program provides grants for research projects that will help fill a void of knowledge about covered bridge dynamics. Eventually, the U.S. Department of Transportation plans to publish a handbook on historic covered bridge preservation by combining the results of all of these research projects into one concise manual.
         I am proud to stand here now and proclaim that the preservation of the Cambridge Junction Covered Bridge begins today, and this 150 foot icon of American inventiveness will stand for many, many generations to come.

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The Law Providing the Funding for Covered Bridge Preservation


(a) IN GENERAL.-Subtitle B of title I of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century is amended by adding at the end the following:
(a) HISTORIC COVERED BRIDGE DEFINED.--In this section, the term `historic covered bridge' means a covered bridge that is listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
(b) HISTORIC COVERED BRIDGE PRESERVATION.-Subject to the availability of appropriations under subsection (d), the Secretary shall--
        (1) collect and disseminate information concerning historic covered bridges;
        (2) foster educational programs relating to the history and construction techniques of historic covered bridges;
        (3) conduct research on the history of historic covered bridges; and
        (4) conduct research, and study techniques, on protecting historic covered bridges from rot, fire, natural disasters, or weight-related damage.
        (1) IN GENERAL.-Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary shall make a grant to a State that submits an application to the Secretary that demonstrates a need for assistance in carrying out 1 or more historic covered bridge projects described in paragraph (2).
        (2) TYPES OF PROJECT.-A grant under paragraph (1) may be made for a project--
             (A) to rehabilitate or repair a historic covered bridge;
             (B) to preserve a historic covered bridge, including through-
             (i) installation of a fire protection system, including a fireproofing or fire detection system and sprinklers;
             (ii) installation of a system to prevent vandalism and arson; or
             (iii) relocation of a bridge to a preservation site.
        (3) AUTHENTICITY.-- A grant under paragraph (1) may be made for a project only if--
             (A) to the maximum extent practicable, the project
             (i) is carried out in the most historically appropriate manner; and
             (ii) preserves the existing structure of the historic covered bridge; and
             (B) the project provides for the replacement of wooden components with wooden components, unless the use of wood is impracticable for safety reasons.
        (4) FEDERAL SHARE.-The Federal share of the cost of a project carried out with a grant under this subsection shall be 80 percent.
        (d) FUNDING.-There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 1999 through 2003. Such funds shall remain available until expended.

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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267,
This file posted August 30, 2000