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

Historic Covered Bridge Committee Notes of November 10, 2005


Present at Meeting:

  • Committee members in attendance:
    • Mike Hedges
    • Pam Thurber
    • Warren Tripp
    • Bob McCullough
    • Eric Gilbertson
    • Nancy Boone
    • Scott Newman
    • Sue Scribner
  • Also in attendance were:
    • Roger Whitcomb - Project Manager
    • John Weaver
    • Neil Daniels representing the Vermont Covered Bridge Society
    • Gary Katz from the Town of Newfane
    • Henrik Van Loon from the Town of Newfane

This meeting was a follow-up to previous meetings to discuss the latest two proposals under consideration. They are as follows:

Three different scenarios were discussed; they are:

  1. Rebuild the covered bridge using all new timber but same dimension/design as the existing covered bridge.
  2. Sister all of the existing lattice members (all of which have the ends cut off) by superimposing new sister members directly over the existing lattice members as well as adding an additional layer to the upper and lower bottom chords.

Both scenarios were presented by project manager Roger Whitcomb with the clarification that glulam deck panels are suggested. Sacrificial full width running planks were also suggested. It was clarified that the rehabilitation will likely take a full construction season and that a temporary bridge will be necessary.

It was stated that there is a lot of rot in the south side of the bridge along with a lot of bolt holes. It was questioned whether or not the 2nd proposal would be a long term fix for the bridge. This then led to questions as to whether or not the bridge would need to be disassembled. Also it was asked if the glulam beams currently in place and supporting the bridge could be somehow moved in to support the bridge while any rehabilitation work was being done. Both Warren Tripp and Neil Daniels did not feel that this was feasible. There was considerable discussion as to predicting how much of the original fabric could be saved from the original bridge, particularly in the upper chord as there is rot evident and new members bolted in. While not fully known until work begins, there were opinions expressed that the upper chords should not be touched unless absolutely necessary. It was also suggested that the roof be extended to offer protection to the trusses although some questioned whether this would be of any value. The Town reported that the town voted in March, 2000 for a new 1 lane covered bridge, but as long as a covered bridge remained, they felt that the Newfane voters would be happy with either option.

After additional discussion, a motion was made to vote to approve the rehabilitation option that involves sistering the lattice members and chords (Option 2). It was seconded and then amended to vote to keep the 1978 upper chord bolted members in place if possible. With the Town voting as well as the permanent committee members, there were 7 votes to approve, 1 in dissension and 1 abstaining vote. In dissent, Scott Newman stated that he did not feel that the limited amount of original fabric preserved in this rehabilitation warranted what he perceived to be substantial changes to the original design and would instead favor the reconstruction of the original design with such modifications required to meet required loading. However, with the vote taken, this will place the bridge in Category B of the Priority of Uses and the Priority of Treatment will be Number 3 per the Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Plan. There was a second motion made, seconded and amended to read that the project manager would be given the option of recommending for clearance by the VTrans Preservation Officer that the roofline of the bridge be extended if it seems warranted and beneficial after additional study. This was unanimously passed.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Scribner

[This article was originally posted November 29, 2005]

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