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Hamden Covered Bridge Relocated on Roadway

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Monday, July 24, 2000

We are sure that most of you are now aware of the unfortunate accident that happened with the Hamden Covered Bridge in Hamden, NY. It is certainly our hope that all covered bridge societies will pull together and support the Delaware County Department of Public Works, and the residents of the Town of Hamden in their efforts to restore the Hamden Covered Bridge and return it to its original location. We are sure they would more than welcome your words of encouragement, appreciate your positive suggestions, and welcome your support as they try to deal with the recent events and the challenges that will face them in the months ahead. If you would like more information on how to contact them, please let us know and we will be happy to forward e-mail and/or mailing addresses on to anyone interested. The following is an official statement issued by the Delaware County Department of Public Works. We thought you folks might be interested in reading it.

Pat Kane ( )

Statement from Delaware County DPW Regarding the Hamden Covered Bridge

"Fortunately, no one was hurt, when it could have been catastrophic. Let us start by sharing the roles and responsibilities of yesterday. The Contractor developed the scheme whereby the bridge was to be moved. He retained the Crane company to assist. The County observed, but was not in control. Had we exercised "control" over the work, we would automatically assume all legal liability for any result or injury. Therefore, even should we have assumed that we knew better than the Contractor how to accomplish the action, it was in our mutual interest to allow the Contractor to do his job.

As to the result, the bridge has been relocated on cribbing on the roadway. If you visit the bridge, you can see that it still appears to be a bridge, albeit with some missing components. We believe that the bridge can be rebuilt without alteration of our plans, other than to extend the work to repair the breaks using the same sizes of components and same connection details, as already exist in the plans. The Contractor performs superior work and we are confident that other than seeing more "lighter colored" timber, it will still be the same bridge.

The additional material will probably take some time to obtain, yet work can proceed with the material that he has already ordered and received. It would be difficult for us to predict the completion time - it is too early to guess.

As to what really happened - the load sharing between the two cranes experienced an unexpected load shift for reasons unknown at this time (and will probably remain unclear). The smaller crane was unable to compensate for the shift and had to let go or topple. The operator did a remarkable job at avoiding loss of life and the crane. Beyond this discussion, we can only offer speculation and try to assess blame, but do not think this would be conducive to anyone now. We are most thankful that we avoided a much more serious event. We can repair what happened.

Due to the intense interest of the local community, we are attempting to host a meeting with the State Historic Preservation Office in the very near future to discuss the contract plans, intent, and the ramifications of the accident. We are confident that we have acted prudently as the owner of the bridge and confident that the damage can be repaired without undue difficulty. No one feels any worse about the incident than the DPW officials and Phil Pierce - engineer, Bill Kline - contractor, and John Payne - crane Owner/operator.

Thank you.


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