vcbs header image

Miller’s Run Bridge Hit For Second Time In A Week

Dana Gray Staff Writer Jul 21, 2022
Paul Hayes contributed to this report.


Google Map of Vermont with state seal


LYNDON Center — The Miller’s Run Covered Bridge was hit again on Wednesday afternoon - the second time in a week.

Clifford Merceron, 61, of Homestead, Fla., drove a Penske moving truck through the bridge. Safe clearance, which is noted by several signs in both directions to the bridge, is 11 feet, 9 inches; the truck’s height is over 12 feet. Boards on the southern end of the bridge were broken and dislodged from the impact of the truck.

Merceron said GPS was his guide and he didn’t notice the signs indicating the bridge height. Once he realized that he’d struck the bridge, he continued through and stopped to report the accident.

Lyndonville Police Officers Jason Harris and Dan Renaudette responded. They wrote up a violation of the municipal ordinance regarding bridge height and gave him the ticket. It carries a $5,000 fine.

Earlier This Week

The bridge was also struck on Saturday after a long streak of safe passage.

“It’s been since January since anyone hit the bridge,” notes a YouTube post attributed to Covered Bridge Accidents, by Mike Grant. “The longest safe time for the bridge so far.” Along with the post is a video that shows a Penske moving truck push through the bridge on the southern end, breaking boards struck by the top of the truck.

Oftentimes, it’s video footage from a private camera nearby that helps police determine who drove a vehicle through that’s too tall and caused damage, because the drivers drive away. In Saturday’s case, the driver stopped and called Vermont State Police.

According to a report from Trooper David Hastings, Joshua Stewart, of Owings Mill, Md., was driving a 2022 Penske Truck about 4 p.m. on Saturday when he encountered the bridge.

Trooper Hastings reported that Stewart was following a vehicle driven by his wife who was using GPS directions to guide them. The directions led them through the bridge, and the truck is taller than the 11-foot, 9-inches of clearance.

The trooper noted that Stewart owned up to his mistake and stated that the bridge signage is clear.

“It should be noted like the sign says before the bridge, ALL vehicles above 11’9” DO NOT fit under the covered bridge,” wrote Trooper Hastings.

Board Weighs Action

On Monday, the Lyndon Select Board expressed willingness to install clearance barriers after the weekend accident.

“I would certainly like to move on this,” said board Chair Dan Daley.

Last year the Select Board agreed to install steel barriers on either end of the bridge, to prevent vehicles that exceed the 11-foot-9 height limit from colliding with the historic 144-year-old span.

The project was shelved due to a 200-percent increase in steel prices.

It hadn’t been discussed since March, but was revisited this week after an oversized 2022 Penske Truck barreled through the bridge on Saturday and left a trail of broken boards in its wake.

Select Board member Christian Thompson said leaving the bridge unprotected was an invitation for disaster, “The next hit could be the big one. You never know.”

During the budget process in the winter, the Select Board allocated $16,215 to design, build and install the barriers.

The amount was approved by Town Meeting in March, but around that time the project cost ballooned to $30,000 due to inflation.

However, on Monday, Town Administrator Justin Smith said steel costs had declined from their peak.

“I’m hearing that steel is steadily coming down at this point so I’ve asked for an updated quote,” he said.

Select Board member Christian Thompson recommended that the town seek grant funding to help cover the cost overruns.

He suggested that Planning Administrator Nicole Gratton could identify a grant funding source to protect “a historic structure that is [potentially] under assault daily.”

“Maybe she can be creative and find a funding source that could make up the difference,” he said.

NSA Industries has already developed a project design and price quote, and would be in line to manufacture the steel barriers.

The barriers were deemed necessary because tall vehicles frequently collide with the bridge despite signage in both directions. It was struck three times in 2021. Repairs typically run $1,100 per incident.

Last year the Select Board increased fines for height and weight violations at Miller’s Run Covered Bridge to $5,000 (first offense), $10,000 (second offense), and $15,000 (third offense).


Editors note: Information reprinted with permission from the Caledonian Record Publishing Company, Inc.

HTML5 logo