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Future of Williamsville Bridge Pondered
WILLIAMSVILLE, Vt. May 9, 2006 -- The plans for the restoration of the Williamsville coveredbridge may well have to be changed.
In 2000, Newfane's voters agreed to build a new covered bridge in Williamsville, but the town of Newfane secured $1.6 million in federal funding, through the Agency of Transportation, which would pay to restore the bridge. Construction could begin in 2008.
Originally, voters approved $48,000 in spending for the town's match on the replacement project. At that same meeting, voters rejected a measure calling for the bridge to be replaced by a conventional bridge. Under the restoration plan, the town may not have to pay anything, however, some residents, concerned about traffic in Williamsville and South Newfane, want a modern bridge built in Williamsville.
Responding to resident's complaints, the Selectboard held a public meeting Thursday, April 27 at the New Brook Firehouse to discuss the bridge's future.
A chief concern is that the weight limit on the bridge is 20,000 pounds, not enough to support heavy trucks. The planned restoration would increase the weight limit to 40,000 pounds, but some residents don't think that will be enough. Trucks that are too heavy use Baker Brook Road and Parish Hill Road as a detour upsetting residents.
Some residents would like to see the bridge restored for historical reasons. Others see it as an effective brake on traffic that speeds through the villages of South Newfane and Williamsville.
As a solution to these concerns, the town of Newfane, the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the Historic Bridge Committee are considering plans to build a modern base for the bridge, while retaining the rest of the historic structure. This would increase the bridges weight limit to 90,000 pounds.
Such a repair would have to be approved by the Historic Bridge Committee, which is made up of representatives from the Agency of Transportation, the Division for Historic Preservation, and the Federal Highway Authority.
RogerWhitcomb, VTrans Project Engineer, said replacing the bridge base would be a low priority repair based on that committee's criteria. The Historic Bridge Committee is meeting May 10 could have a decision.
[This item developed from articles in the Brattleboro Reformer by Andy Rosen. Our thanks to John Esau for forwarding the articles to us. - Ed.]
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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267
This file posted 5/21/2006