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Compromise may be near on new Arch Bridge design

NEWFANE—As Newfane weighs its options on the needed replacement of the Arch Bridge, a new possibility has emerged that may bridge the gap between those who want to retain it as a single-lane span, and those who feel it should have two lanes. [See “Arch Bridge needs replacing ... but with what?” Town & Village, May 27]

During the July 6 regular Selectboard meeting, Chair and Roads Foreman Todd Lawley noted one possible solution named at the June 29 special Selectboard meeting with Vermont’s Agency of Transportation (AOT) was to build a bridge that is both one lane, and two.

He said if the town chooses a bridge the width of a two-lane span, the AOT is willing to paint lines to narrow the travel lanes and install a three-way stop sign to effectively make the bridge one lane and calm traffic.

Then, during emergencies and snow storms, wide vehicles including the town plow trucks could successfully and easily cross the bridge, and navigate the sharp turns to get on and off the structure, Lawley said.

During the process of deciding on the new bridge, residents promoting a one-lane bridge voiceed their concern at the possibility of a two-lane bridge encouraging drivers to speed across it, and through the village of Williamsville. Many said they feel a one-lane span will, by design, force drivers to take it slow.

At the July 6 meeting, Board member Marion Dowling read four pieces of correspondence townspeople wrote to the Board about the bridge; three of them supported a two-lane bridge, and one was neutral.

A few mentioned the bridge’s use during Tropical Storm Irene as the only road able to reach some sections of Windham County, and how crucial it is to ensure the span can accommodate delivery trucks to shuttle food and other supplies during emergencies.

During the June 29 meeting, Lawley “also noted that Tropical Storm Irene was not the only incident that closed Route 30 and cited a situation three weeks prior where a traffic accident closed Route 30, necessitating the Depot Road and the Arch Bridge to be used as a detour for approximately three hours,” according to the meeting’s notes.

But the Selectboard still needs to decide what kind of bridge it wants, and the clock is ticking. The Board hopes to get its decision to the AOT before September.

Lawley said the topic will be on the agenda at the next Selectboard meeting, and he and the Board invite public comment.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #314 (Wednesday, July 15, 2015). This story appeared on page C1.

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