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Pulp Mill Bridge at Middlebury Selectboard -April 7, 2008

Below is a Copy of the applicable portion of the minutes relative to Pulp Mill Bridge. The full text of the minutes may be found at:

Irene Barna

Town of Middlebury
Police Department Conference Meeting Room
Monday, April 7, 2008
Meeting Minutes


Members present: John Tenny, Dean George, Bill Perkins, Craig Bingham. Victor Nuovo, and Don Keeler. ABSENT: Janelle Ashley.

Staff Present: Town Manager Bill Finger, Assistant Town Manager Joe Colangelo, Town Planner Fred Dunnington, and Director of Operations Dan Werner. Several members of the community were present at the meeting, which was televised on MCTV and reported by John Flowers of The Addison Independent.

5. Pulp Mill Bridge: Engineering Analysis Presentation,
Discussion of Historic Preservation Easement &
Finance & Maintenance Agreement with Weybridge Select Board

Joe Nelson of the Vermont Covered Bridge Society, covered bridge expert Jan Lewandoski, John Weaver of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and Weybridge Select Board members Gale Hurd, Peter James, Steve Smith were in attendance to further discuss renovations to the Pulp Mill Bridge and the Finance and Maintenance Agreement proposed by the State. Hoyle-Tanner representative Sean James gave a power point presentation outlining the report generated by the engineering firm commissioned by VTrans to renovate the Pulp Mill Bridge (copy attached), which is jointly owned by the Towns of Middlebury and Weybridge. The year-long construction is estimated at a cost of $2,250,000 in 2008 dollars, and $2,600,000 in 2011 dollars.

Town Manager Bill Finger asked what the Town could expect in terms of life expectancy of the bridge upon completion. Mr. James explained that it would depend on maintenance, but that a newly renovated bridge should last between 30-50 years.

Dean George stressed the point that taking the Pulp Mill Bridge out of service for a year, in addition to the underpass construction in the downtown area, before the Cross Street Bridge is constructed, would create a major impact on the community. Dean asked about the possibility of a temporary bridge at the Pulp Mill Bridge location.

Mr. James estimated the cost to build a temporary one-lane bridge to be a million dollars; however, he was not convinced a temporary bridge could be built given the proximity of the houses on either side of the Pulp Mill Bridge. John Weaver of the Vermont Agency of Transportation also noted that permitting would likely delay construction for two years, and the State would have to re-apply for additional funds from the federal government, making the 2011 construction date more realistic.

Noting that the Towns have relied on the expertise of Jan Lewandoski over the years to make recommendations concerning renovations to the bridge, Bill Finger asked if the Towns of Weybridge and Middlebury were locked into the Hoyle approach. Also, given the $2.6 million price tag in 2011 dollars, Bill suggested it might be more practical to consider moving the historical bridge to another location and constructing a more modern one in its place.

Mr. Weaver responded that the State is open to all recommendations; however, the federal funds ear-marked for the historical bridge are not available should it be taken out of service.

Jan Lewandoski reviewed his comments contained in his April 1st memorandum to the Town Manager (copy attached). Mr. Lewandoski suggested that the critical piece that needs replacing in the bridge is the bottom chord, an original structural error that has been left uncorrected since [the 1850s]. He added that the top chord should be replaced in areas where rotting appears, the bracing needs to be checked, and he has consistently advocated that the entire stringer level should be removed and replaced with one layer of decking in order to reduce the weight of the bridge.

Chairman John Tenny noted that Mr. Lewandoski has brought forth a different approach that may be in conflict with Historic Preservation guidelines. Weybridge Select Board member Gail Hurd suggested that the Historic Bridge Committee consider Jan Lewandoski's recommendations, specifically taking into account replacing the bottom chord and repair error of 18[50] so that the renovations for the bridge may be made at a lower cost.

Noting that an estimated 1,900 cars pass through Pulp Mill Bridge on a daily basis, Bill Finger asked how much the Towns should be spending to maintain the bridge at this time, and if the repairs are a matter of urgency. Mr. James advised that VTrans continues to inspect the bridge, however, the east truss is deteriorating and is in need of attention.

Regarding the Finance and Maintenance Agreement in connection with Pulp Mill Bridge, Bill Finger suggested the Board delay any decision until the rehabilitation effort is resolved. Both members of the Middlebury and Weybridge select boards concurred.

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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267
This file posted 04/23/2008