WILLIAMSVILLE — After months of closure, the Arch Bridge is now open to traffic.
The $4.6 million replacement for the historic concrete bridge on Depot Road that spans the Rock River was officially opened on Nov. 23 with a ribbon cutting ceremony led by town officials.
According to a news release from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT), while the reopened bridge has been paved and striped, and guardrails have been installed, “drivers are advised to travel with caution while crews clean up the site and remove project signs.”
The original Arch Bridge was a historic, reinforced concrete, closed spandrel, elliptical arch built in 1908. The one-lane bridge was 100 feet long and 18 feet wide. It was renovated in 1934.
However, time had taken its toll on the bridge. VTrans found the arch was in poor condition and considered structurally deficient with a substandard vertical alignment and bridge railing. It was also considered functionally obsolete for modern traffic, with shoulder widths of 3.8 feet and a single-lane width of 10 feet.
Despite it being one of the most structurally deficient bridges in Vermont, the town-owned span survived the devastating flash flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The storm and its aftermath, however, did provide the impetus for the town to explore a replacement.
The bridge was closed in March of this year as Renaud Brothers Inc. of Vernon, the contractors for the project, demolished the old bridge and began work on a new structure that would fulfill modern design criteria while still respecting the original aesthetic.
VTrans evaluated alternatives for replacement of Bridge 12 in an engineering study completed in February 2015 that assessed proposed design criteria for the bridge and roadway alignment, right-of-way impacts, hydraulics and historic and cultural resources.
Several alternatives were considered, said VTrans Senior Structures Project Manager Carolyn Cota, including taking no action, rehabilitating the existing historic arch, fully replacing it with a new reinforced concrete arch, and fully replacing it with a prefabricated steel beam bridge and concrete arch façade to mimic the original structure.
Given the age of the structure and structural deficiencies, the engineering study recommended full bridge replacement with an offsite detour. The new bridge should last 75 to 100 years.
Like the original bridge, the new Arch Bridge is a one-lane bridge, but the roadway is now 28 feet wide with shoulders that are 7 feet wide. Its new arch, made of precast concrete, replicates the original.
Depot Road was closed to through traffic during construction, with a detour via Route 30 and Grimes Hill Road.
According to VTrans, the bridge project had been scheduled to finish in October. While the actual construction work was finished on time, delays with on-site work with paving, line striping, and installing permanent signage pushed that date back a few weeks.
The federal Highway Administration covered 80% of the cost of replacing the bridge, with Newfane kicking in 5% and the state paying for 15%.
“The project has been successful,” said Cota. “It was a challenging structure to construct and Renaud Brothers did a great job.”