Route 9 bridge almost finished, open to traffic
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | February 11,2013
AP FILE PHOTO
Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette looks at a collapsed bridge on Route 9 in Woodford on Aug. 28, 2011, following Tropical Storm Irene.
WOODFORD — The bridge on Route 9 that connects Bennington with Brattleboro and other eastern parts of Vermont is now open and a temporary bridge has been removed, but a few tasks, expected to be done in May, will need to be completed before the project is officially done, according to engineer Ronald Lemaire.
Lemaire, who is the resident engineer for the project on behalf of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said the contractor, T. Buck Construction of Maine, had run out of time to pave over the deck, also known as bridge surface. Because of the cold temperatures this late in the winter season, the construction company pulled its crews from the area last week.
Until the final paving is done, drivers should expect the speed limit in that area of Route 9 to remain reduced. Orange signs along the road will provide the correct speed limit until the project wraps.
According to Lemaire, the remaining work will probably take about two weeks to finish.
But with only paving and some landscaping left to be completed on the project, the bridge is now effectively restored after the damage it suffered during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
The storm caused one lane of the bridge to collapse, shutting it down for several weeks immediately after Irene.
Repairing the bridge meant putting up a temporary bridge downstream on the Roaring Branch but that second bridge has now been removed.
The loss of the bridge caused a transportation problem but it caused another major problem for the town of Bennington. A water pipeline, which is connected to the town’s water treatment plant, located off Route 9 in Woodford, was broken when the bridge collapsed.
Town crews were able to keep water flowing to most customers without any serious rationing until a temporary pipeline was put in place.
Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd said the pipeline has now been replaced with something permanent which has helped restore normal functions at the water treatment plant.
Buck’s winning bid for the project was about $2.1 million. According to Lemaire, the cost of the project is currently slightly under budget.
However, the project’s completion date was December. Carolyn Carlson, structures project manager for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said there was a possibility the state might impose a penalty.
“At this point, we won’t know what that could amount to, if anything, until the actual project is complete as far as the days that they are over the completion date,” she said.
While the bridge is almost done, Carlson said, unfortunately, she couldn’t say the same about all the work the state has had to take on to repair damage caused by Irene.
“For instance, there’s a project in Bennington, a couple of bridges west of this Woodford project, where they’re going to be doing some pier work. … There are a couple of bridges in Jamaica which are temporary bridges. We’re going to be replacing those next summer. There’s still a lot of work left to be done,” she said.