FEMA: Taftsville Covered Bridge Update….Happy Valley Road to Close

At Tuesday night’s Woodstock Selectboard meeting, Municipal Manager Phil Swanson gave an update on the restoration of the Taftsville Covered Bridge. Several, if not many, residents and visitors have been wondering why they haven’t seen any work being done on the bridge which was severely damaged by flood waters following Tropical Storm Irene.

Swanson says part of the hold-up, and there has been a hold-up, is that so many agencies have now gotten involved in the plans and permits for the bridge. As background, the Town of Woodstock and the State of Vermont had already been planning for a re-build of the bridge when Tropical Storm Irene hit. That, of course, meant there was now severe flood damage and need for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get involved since they have money for such damages.

Now, we have learned that a majority of the bureaucratic hurdles have been cleared, leaving the way for contracts to be developed and bidding on the contracts to begin soon. Notwithstanding the perceived hold-up (and lack of activity around the bridge), the re-opening of the bridge is slated for Labor Day, 2013.

Swanson says that since the State of Vermont had originally been ready to work on the project, FEMA now says the State should continue as the designated agency to “run the job”.  Pricing on different parts of the re-build will be reflective of the parts of the restoration that are related to flood damage vs. those related to restoration of an old bridge (the original project).

Among other agencies involved are the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the Historic Preservation Division. Swanson says there has been much discussion — and disagreement — about how best to re-do the essential bridge support structures.  While the southern abutment will be done in concrete, the center pier and the north abutment need something different. It’s possible that a strong epoxy and mortar mixture will be used for those support structures.

In other news related to the Taftsville Bridge area of Woodstock, Swanson says FEMA  has given the “okay” for a rebuild of the Happy Valley Bridge. This is likely to change local driving habits almost immediately. Within the next week or so expect to see signage indicating the road (which connects Hartland Hill Road with Route 4 in Taftsville) is closed except to residents. They will have to do some roundabouts to get to where they are going. This project may take as long as four months to complete at a cost of about 250K.

At the other end of Town, expect to see some work begin on the Roberts Road Bridge later this summer and into the Fall. The good news, according to Swanson,  is that FEMA is on-board with a Town concept for the reconstruction project (which means major funding). Swanson says there is much interest in the project within the “bridge-building community” so he expects some nice competitive bids. This project also involves the Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Vermont’s environmental and structures division and our local planner Michael Brands to deal with issues related to the adjacent flood plain.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Unfortunately that leaves some of us feeling somewhat like an island when it comes to folks being able to “get here from there”….. We felt the financial loss of the T-ville Bridge closing immediately, now with Happy Valley Road to be closed until November or longer – I suspect that folks up on the hill will head right into the village since they cannnot come down the hill to Route 4. Either way it is a bit of traveling to get around back up the hill going from either side.

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  2. Often, when I find a fellow WP weblog of particular interest, I’ll hit the like button – Though it is hardly the same thing, I all the same, find it hard to “like” a story about bureaucratic inertia.

    Thanks for the update –

    My best to all still working through the aftermath.

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