Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy says the work, so far, has gone off without any problems. A temporary bridge connecting Look Road with a detour over nearby Myhre Hill Road was installed a little more than a week ago.
The one-lane bridge is narrow, but wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles and plow trucks, Murphy said. But when the temporary bridge first opened for regular use, there was a minor problem. “There’s a school bus driver that lives across the bridge, and a couple of school bus stops over there. At first, the driver couldn’t get the bus across the bridge, but after some minor adjustments it can make it over fine.”
According to Murphy, the only other problem has been with traffic going too fast on the narrow Myhre Hill Road detour. “I think people just aren’t used to slowing down on that formerly one-way street. But we put up some speed limit signs.”
Work on the old bridge has also progressed quickly. The entire bridge was dismantled and removed in less than a week, including the salvage of some structural materials. “We asked for some of the beams which were rotted out at the ends. We’ve cut them back and still have enough left to use in the future. They’ve been stored at the town garage for now.” Murphy said the beams aren’t earmarked for any particular project, but will likely come in handy sometime in the future.
Daniels Construction is currently building abutments for the new bridge. “They’re digging in a rocky area, and there have been issues pounding down through the rock, but they’re scheduled to pour concrete next week, then move on to bridge construction.”
Murphy said the concrete work depends on continued luck with the weather, as well as chemical additives and heaters to allow the concrete to cure in the cold weather. “We haven’t had any really cold weather so far this winter, and hopefully that will hold,” he said.
Major work on the bridge is scheduled to be finished by April, Murphy said.
The emergency bridge replacement began before full funding was approved, partly because of the dire need, but also because scheduling the work over the winter resulted in a significant savings on work that was inevitable.
Murphy says the bridge is projected to cost a total of about $670,000, including design work. The winter schedule saved about $60,000. “We had four bids, and two were really competitive, from companies that had crews they wanted to keep on over the winter. Daniels Construction from Ascutney wanted to keep their employees working, and that’s why we got a substantial break.”
Money already in the town’s bridge account has funded the work so far, and Murphy says a Town Meeting warning article will ask voters to authorize the board to borrow the remaining $441,000 over a five-year period. “Technically, the town does not have to have voter approval for the loan, but we think the best practice is to get it out in front of the public,” he said. “If it’s not approved, one of the options is to use some of the 1% local option tax money.”