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State provides funds for Elliot Street Bridge repairs

BRATTLEBORO—Last month, the town learned that the state had taken pity on the Elliot Street Bridge.

The state has placed the town into its “Bridge Deck Replacement Program,” even without the town applying, Town Manager Peter Elwell said Sept. 29.

During an interview this summer, Department Of Public Works staff told The Commons that it would cost the town approximately $1.2 million to repair the 69-year old bridge.

A hole in the bridge’s deck has narrowed traveling to one lane. An 8-foot by 10-foot metal plate covers the hole.

Highway and Utilities Superintendent Hannah O’Connell said that the state looks to replace the Elliot Street bridge’s deck in the summer of 2016.

Work that must happen before the summer includes organizing right-of-ways, developing designs, and sending the project out to bid.

“It’s a big task and it’s optimistic,” she said.

O’Connell said that the Elliot Street bridge will probably close during construction.

It will be an inconvenience, she said. But closing the bridge means the construction crew will finish the job faster.

The funding program is new to DPW, she added. She doesn’t know much about the program at this stage, she said.

Right now, the department is working hard to respond to the state’s questions.

DPW first noticed a fist-sized hole in the bridge’s deck last winter. In an attempt to assess the damage and make repairs, staff dug into the concrete, O’Connell explained. They planned to dig until they found stable concrete then patch the hole.

Staff stopped digging when the hole spanned almost four-feet by four-feet, she said.

“We weren’t sure when we’d get to that good, solid concrete,” O’Connell said in the July interview.

According to Elwell, the Agency of Transportation program pays 97.5 percent of the repair costs.

“We’ll get our Elliot Street bridge back,” and probably faster than if we’d done the work ourselves, Elwell said.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #326 (Wednesday, October 7, 2015). This story appeared on page A3.

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