NEWFANE—The Newfane Selectboard is not happy with the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
Because of “recent budgeting activities,” the AOT is delaying the plans for replacing the Arch Bridge by a year, according to a Jan. 6 letter that AOT Structures Program Manager Wayne B. Symonds sent to the Selectboard.
Construction is now set to begin in the spring of 2021.
At the February 20 regular Selectboard meeting, then-Chair Todd Lawley — who also serves as the town’s road foreman — expressed his disappointment and concern.
Lawley noted the poor condition of the bridge — and that the AOT could close it if it gets much worse.
Selectboard members asked Selectboard Assistant Shannon Meckle to compose a letter expressing their concerns about the delay and the risk it incurs for Newfane residents and those in surrounding towns.
“This bridge, located on a federal connecting highway is used not only by local traffic and commuters from neighboring towns, but also thousands of tourists who make their way to Mount Snow and Haystack each weekend,” the letter says.
The letter also mentioned the bridge’s use as a detour during Route 30 closings, fires, motor vehicle accidents, and Tropical Storm Irene.
During the storm, “the Route 30 Bridge washed out, leaving the Arch Bridge the only way to access the West River Valley. Without the use of this bridge, people would have been stranded. The National Guard, local emergency personnel, the Red Cross, and FEMA would have been unable to respond to the needs of the valley,” the letter says.
Meckle confirmed she sent a copy of the letter to the Windham Regional Commission, state Rep. Emily Long, state Sens. Jeanette White and Becca Balint, U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, and Carolyn Carlson, structures project manager with the AOT.
When the Agency of Transportation had a public hearing at the bridge about the replacement project, “they said it was the second most important bridge project in the state,” Board member Gary Delius said. “What happened to that?”