Work continues apace on new bridge project

N.H. DOT: New span ‘should provide a tremendous amount of relief to that crazy intersection’

BRATTLEBORO — Work has begun to pick up on the Hinsdale-Brattleboro bridge project, as the concrete replacement for the two century-old steel spans over the Connecticut River starts taking shape.

The two current spans, the Charles Dana and Anna Hunt Marsh bridges that carry Route 119's traffic between Brattleboro and Hinsdale, N.H., remain open while the new bridge is under construction just downstream. The old bridges will ultimately be transformed to pedestrian/biking pathways.

The project started last September. The anticipated completion date for the new bridge is October 2024.

'Something wider and more updated'

“We're trying to straighten out what we call 'malfunction junction' with a new bridge,” said Mark Moran, contract administrator/lead construction engineer with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT), which is partnering with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) on the project.

“The new bridge will have two abutments, one on each side, with seven individual piers, so it will be one long bridge instead of two shorter ones that straddle an island,” Moran said. “It improves the situation by taking the two outdated, narrow, maintenance-heavy, aging bridges out and replacing them with something wider and more updated.”

Currently, he said, “if an 18-wheeler comes at you, all traffic has to stop.”

The project includes building a new intersection about 1,800 feet downstream of the existing bridges, a design change “that should provide a tremendous amount of relief to that crazy intersection,” Moran said.

As was the case with the United States Navy Seabees Bridge approximately 2{1/4} miles upstream, New Hampshire - which is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all bridges spanning the Connecticut River - will leave the two old bridges standing once the new bridge goes into operation.

“The truss bridges will be rehabilitated as part of a second project once the new bridge is constructed and will be for pedestrian and bicycle use,” said Gary Laroche, VTrans project manager. “They will no longer carry vehicles.”

Laroche says the rehabilitation design to convert the existing bridges to foot and bike paths is still in the works. The Hinsdale-Brattleboro Bridge Project Advisory Committee, a citizens advisory group, has also been involved in the planning process.

Overall, said Moran, the intention of the project is to “make that whole corridor a lot friendlier for everybody.”

Moran said the cost for the new bridge is about $61.2 million, with a total contingency cost of $64 million, if needed. Funding is split between the state of New Hampshire (80 percent) and Vermont (20 percent).

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