Wednesday, September 26 - Senator Jeffords announced that grants totaling $1.84 million will be made available to preserve and repair over 40 covered bridges in Vermont. The grant comes from the National Covered Bridge Preservation Program sponsored by Jeffords.
Of the $1.84 million, $461,600 will be used to replace roofs on 38 bridges. The rest of the funds will be used for major repairs on four bridges:
As of this date, all of these bridges are in use, except for the Gorham, which is closed to traffic with Jersey barriers in place.
The Comstock Bridge was inspected during the Covered Bridge Study concluded in the spring of 1995. The inspectors recommended that the community "continue use of the bridge for light vehicular traffic, with heavier truck traffic diverted to other routes..." The estimated cost of needed repairs at that time totaled $55,000, contrasted with the $576,000 to be provided by the recent grant.
The repairs listed by the inspectors were:
The bridge also has a distribution beam installed under the floor beams. Designed to force the participation of adjacent floor beams in supporting axle loads of vehicles, and found to add only to the dead weight of the bridge, it has been VAOT policy to remove these whenever deck-work needs to be done.
When the recommended work is completed, the inspection report states that the carrying capacity of the bridge will increase from three to six tons.
The Inspectors of the Cooley Bridge recommended that the Town of Pittsford continue use of the bridge for light vehicular traffic, with heavier truck traffic diverted to other routes in the local road system. Alternatively, the bridge should be rehabilitated to safely support moderate traffic.
The current capacity of the span is eight tons, sufficient for the first alternative. Rehabilitation, the second alternative, would increase the capacity of the bridge to twenty tons.
The inspectors estimated that the cost of the work would be from $40,000 to $80,000 depending upon the option taken.
The inspection team offered the Towns of Pittsford and Proctor just one alternative for continued use of their covered bridge; to rehabilitate the structure to safely support "moderate" traffic. The current carrying capacity is estimated to be three tons. Rehabilitation would increase the capacity to twenty tons. The study states: "A more refined engineering investigation will be required to determine details and a cost estimate for this option."
The Gorham Bridge has been closed to traffic, probably because the class of vehicle using the bridge regularly exceeds its three-ton capacity.
Notice in the accompanying photograph that most of the truss-members in view have been spliced. The other truss is much the same. This method of repair was used to replace the lower ends of the truss-members when they became broken or rotted. The method more commonly encountered in Vermont is that of "sistering," inserting a new truss-member into the interstices between the existing members.
When the Sayres, or Sayers, or Thetford Center, or Tucker Hill Road Bridge was inspected, the Town of Thetford were offered two options for the continued use of their bridge; Continue use of the bridge for light vehicular traffic, with heavier truck traffic diverted to other routes, or close the structure to traffic and construct an adjacent bypass structure.
The capacity of the structure is thirty tons because previous repairs added a mid-stream pier and four steel beams to the structure.
The cost of repairs was estimated to be between $85,000 and $520,000, depending upon the option taken.