Cost of fixing covered bridge damage pegged at $5,750

DUMMERSTON — Despite cosmetic damage and a repair bill of more than $5,000, the Dummerston Selectboard reported at their April 3 meeting that all is safe and (structurally) sound in the West Dummerston Covered Bridge, which was struck by a truck on March 31.

Dummerston resident William Miller struck a cross beam and tore the bridge's trimboards over the East-West Road side entrance just after 5 pm, after failing to recognize the Budget rental truck he was driving to collect maple sap exceeded the bridge height limit. State police arrived on the scene between 5:30 and 6 p.m., as well as Dummerston road foreman Lee Chamberlain, who assessed the damage.

Miller, according to a police report, “subsequently left the scene without reporting the incident,” and drove the truck back to his family's farm on Miller Road in Dummerston. He was later identified, cited with leaving the scene of an accident, and is scheduled to be arraigned May 7.

Chamberlain met on April 2 with contracter Mike Renaud, whose Vernon-based company Renaud Brothers has previously repaired the covered bridge, to discuss costs and logistics for fixing the damaged pieces.

Renaud gave an estimate of $5,750 to replace the cross beam and to remove and repair the siding and trim. Repair costs will be covered by the town's insurance, which covers damages to the covered bridge.

“I don't want to say it wasn't a big deal, because it is, but I just didn't think everyone was going to pick it up the way they did,” Chamberlain said, in reference to the several media outlets that arrived on scene soon after the accident was reported. “Even if I look at it today, yeah, it needs to be fixed, but it's not really one of my top priorities.”

When the repairs are made, Renaud will try to complete the project in two half-day segments, beginning after morning commuter traffic and ending around noon. During these time frames, Renaud will first move his equipment in, remove all damaged material, and then replace what has been removed with new materials. Traffic will be rerouted to the nearby Iron Bridge while the construction is occurring.

At 280 feet long and nearly 140 years old, the West Dummerston Covered Bridge is both the longest operational covered bridge in the state and one of the oldest. Recently, it has developed structural issues, including erosion issues along its wing walls over the summer of 2012, which were also repaired by Renaud Brothers.

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