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V.A.O.T. Historic Bridge Committee Proceedings

Historic Covered Bridge Committee Notes of February 14, 2002 for:


Present at Meeting:

  • Committee members:
    • J.B. McCarthy
    • David Hoyne
    • Warren Tripp
    • Bob McCullough
    • Eric Gilbertson
    • Nancy Boone
    • Scott Newman
    • Sue Scribner
  • Also in attendance were:
    • Mr. Stephen Barrett, Public Works Director with the Town of Brattleboro
    • Joe Nelson representing the Vermont Covered Bridge Society
    • Michael Canavan from The Federal Highway Administration
    • Jim O'Gorman Pittsford Town Manager

The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the inspection findings and rehabilitation recommendations for the Cooley Covered Bridge prepared by Lichtenstein Consulting Engineers, Inc.

There was a lot of discussion relative to the distribution beams and whether or not their contribution is valuable when considering their added dead load. It was questioned whether they are really necessary if the floor system is adequately designed. The value of runner planks in distributing load was discussed as well. Jim O'Gorman, representing the Town of Pittsford, relayed that they were seeing problems on their covered bridges with drivers going off the running boards, panicking and subsequently causing damage to the structures. Warren Tripp suggested adding curbing inside the trusses to protect them while keeping the runner planks. Eric Gilbertson asked whether if the curbing was increased in size, perhaps 12" x 12", and fastened down properly, could it essentially act as distribution beams. It was felt that it could.

There was also discussion relative to the trusses. It is felt that they are quite strong in design and perhaps some rot in the members could be tolerated because of this and the fact that application of a fungicide/insecticide is suggested. J. B. McCarthy shared that there is a new preservative treatment being tested by the Forest Products Laboratory, which may be appropriate for use on this bridge. Further information on this will be sent to the Town for their consideration. It was suggested that treated wood be used for the bearing blocks and steel-backed timber guardrail be utilized on the approaches. Finally, it was suggested that compressed air methods be used for cleaning rather than water.

Going through the rehabilitation recommendations of Lichtenstein Consulting Engineers:

  • Remove and replace 10' + of the lower exterior bottom chord members at all four corners: No objections, just an acknowledgement that it may be necessary to replace longer sections.
  • Straighten the "racking": No objections, just concern that caution is exercised with both the method for doing this and the qualifications of the construction contractor.
  • Add "sister" lattice members as required: No objections but request that this be further assessed due to the inherent strength of the trusses.
  • Replace bearing blocks: No objections, request that treated wood be used.
  • Application of a fungicide/insecticide on all remaining timber: No objections, will seek approval of Town to consider use of treatment suggested by the Forest Products Laboratory.
  • Application of a preservative/sealant: No objections.
  • Application of a fire retardant: No objections.
  • Replacement of the deck with a 5" thick nail laminated timber deck: No objections.
  • Replacement of floorbeams with same size members of higher strength: No objections.
  • Non-structural item recommendations:: No objections. As discussed above by committee, consider use of steel-backed timber guardrail on approaches and use caution with cleaning methods. Installation of bridge lighting and a fire alarm system will need to be approved by the Town.

It is requested that the consultant consider removal of the distribution beams underneath the structure and add curbing inside the structure. Also, the unique cross-bracing shown in Photo 8 should be retained.

It was evident and appreciated that the consultant developed their recommendations considering the Priority of Uses and Treatments outlined in the Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Plan. The structure's use category is (A) Special Use on Roads and the proposed treatments fall within Treatments 1, 2 and 3. The committee requests that the consultant proceed with development of Preliminary Plans, considering the content of these meeting minutes.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Scribner

[This article was originally posted February 21, 2002]

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