VTrans outlines Weston bridge replacement, Rt. 100 closure timeline

By Christopher Biddle
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Weston Select Board meets after the VTrans presentation on the closing of Bridge 98

The Weston Select Board meets after the VTrans presentation on the closing of Bridge 98

The Vermont Agency of Transportation came to Weston on Tuesday,  April 26 to give residents a rundown on the planned replacement of Bridge 98 on Route 100 that will take place this summer.

Jennifer Fitch, a project engineer with VTrans, told a crowd of 25 in the Weston Playhouse living room — where the Select Board was holding its meeting to accommodate the crowd — that the replacement project will run from Tuesday, May 17 to Friday, July 8, with closure of Route 100 occurring June 3 to June 23, and alternate lane closure occurring for the two week periods on either side.

VTrans has hired Belden Co. to construct the bridge, which will be built using “accelerated bridge construction” as opposed to “phase construction,” where a temporary bridge is installed during the construction of a new one. VTrans says phase construction could take a year or more due to the time needed for the concrete to cure. With ABC methods, major components of the bridge are pre-cast and installed in pieces to minimize right‐of‐way impact and road-user cost. The bridge pieces are being constructed at Carrera’s in Middlebury.

Belden project manager Ken Lougee said that pile‐driving work will begin on Tuesday, May 17 and continue for 14 days, with a break for Memorial Day weekend, Friday through Sunday, May 27 to 29, when both lanes will be open. Once the bridge is reopened, finish work will continue until Friday, July 8, during which one lane will be open during the day and both lanes will be open at night.

A neighbor of the project asked Lougee when construction crews will work round the clock. Lougee said that while they are permitted to work 24 hours while the road is entirely closed, they plan only work round the clock Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5 to demolish the existing bridge and  then Friday, June 10  to Sunday, June 12 while they pour concrete between the pre‐cast components.

Lougee said that noise levels during those times will be monitored, with only 75 decibels (about as loud as a dishwasher) permitted after 9 p.m. Fitch said that the loudest activities will be pile‐driving and demolition, and will not be permitted after 9 p.m.

Another resident asked what the plans were for school bus routes. Fitch said that was a question for either the schools or a local bus companies. In an interview on WednesdayGreg Harrington, who manages transportation for the Flood Brook School as well as local students attending Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, said that students who are normally picked up at the intersection of Routes 155 and 100 will be picked up instead at the intersection of Old County and Greendale roads.

Fitch said that VTrans recognizes that locals will use a detour route different than the one that it suggests, which is to direct commercial traffic to Routes 103 and 11 in the towns of Ludlow, Chester and Londonderry. She said that a detour agreement, which is being developed now, will compensate the town for the added wear and tear on that local detour, which Weston has designated as Old Priory and Old County road.

Cindy Cook, who has been contracted by VTrans to act as its public outreach coordinator for this project, said that money from the detour agreement will be given to the town in a lump sum, with no requirements on how it is used.

After the informational meeting convened, the Weston Select Board discussed the possibility of having Vermont State Police patrol Old County Road during the detour period. Despite being skeptical that the town could afford such a contract, Chairman Denis Benson directed administrative assistant Cheryl Barker to ask the VSP about cost.

The board also voted unanimously to install permanent “blind driveway” signs around three residences on Old County Road, and to have temporary suggested speed limit signs (35 mph) put up on Old County Road for the duration of the detour. The board also plans to install concrete jersey barriers around the parking lot at the Weston Priory, but will wait for board member Bruce Downer and Jim Linville and Road Foreman Almon Crandall to meet with the Priory before making a final decision.

 

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About the Author: Christopher Biddle is a journalist, radio DJ and lifelong Vermonter. He hosts the 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday Rewind show on 102.7 WEQX. In addition to The Chester Telegraph and The Mountain Times he has written for other local publications. His audio work includes stories for VPR and Slate Magazine's podcast network. He collects VHS tapes and knows how to use a chainsaw.

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