Repair of the Hi-Lo-Biddy Stone Arch Bridge Information Sheet for Special Town Meeting 7:30 p.m. on Wed., April 27, 2005 at Putney Central School Article 1: “To see if the Town will authorize the borrowing of an amount not to exceed Thirty-five Thousand Dollars ($35,000) in addition to the Thirty Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety One Dollars ($30,991) already appropriated for the repair of the Hi-Lo Biddy Stone Arch Bridge, as the Town’s share of the estimated $313,496 project cost to be repaid over three years” Historic Significance: The Hi-Lo Biddy Stone arch bridge is one of 10 extant dry-laid stone bridges built by James Follett of Townshend, Vermont. Two of the surviving bridges are in Putney. The bridge is highly unusual in that it was built in 1906 at a time when iron and steel had almost completely displaced wood and stone in bridge construction. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is featured in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 1988 guide “Great American Bridges and Dams.” Project Summary: The Town of Putney is seeking authorization from its voters to increase its support of the stabilization and repair of the historic Hi-Lo Biddy granite stone arch bridge over the Sacketts Brook for continued pedestrian and bicycle use. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in September 1996 due to safety concerns but remains open for non-vehicular use. A September, 2000 VTrans inspection noted that heavy erosion is present on the eastern side of the bridge and that the northeastern wing wall is very unstable and in danger of collapse. The bridge is in need of immediate attention to correct these deficiencies. The stone arch itself is in excellent shape but the roadbed and temporary fences are in poor condition. The bridge (Bridge #30) is owned by the Town and provides direct access to Putney Village to the residents of the Locust Hill Mobile Home Park as well as the students and employees of Landmark College and other residents. River Road is also frequently used as a bicycling and recreation path by many residents and can be accessed from the village using this bridge. The path across the bridge allows pedestrians to avoid a busy and dangerous section of State Highway Route 5. The bridge is located down Mill Street in close proximity to other important local cultural resources including the historic Thwing Grist Mill next to a natural gorge, owned by the Putney Historical Society, as well as the Sacketts Brook Conservation Site, a town-owned site with interpreted historic paper mill ruins and access to the Sacketts Brook. The Putney Conservation Commission is also pursuing the creation of walking trials along the Sacketts Brook to link the village and school to the Connecticut River. The project represents a financial collaboration and working partnership between the town and the Vermont Agency Of Transportation (VAOT). Under the Enhancement Program of VAOT, the local share is 20% of the total cost of the bridge repair. The project is designed and ready to be constructed this spring/summer pending the approval of additional funds by the town and VAOT. Background for the Special Town Meeting Request: The Town needs to meet an unexpected shortfall in local match. The Town has been planning this project for several years and had secured both local match and an 80% grant through the VAOT Enhancement Program based on an original total project cost estimate of $154,892. The engineering and permits, which cost about $41,000, are complete and in order along with both temporary (construction) and permanent (drainage) easements. However, the town has received construction bids that significantly exceed our VAOT-allocated and town appropriated funds. The town put the project out to bid last spring (2004) and received no bids. In consultation with VAOT, the town went out to bid again in November of 2004 and received three bids in late January. The lowest qualified bidder submitted a bid of $237,445. The two low bids were within $7,000 of each other and so seem reasonable in the opinion of the engineer. The problem the town faces now is that this amount plus the engineering far exceeds the original cost estimate (and available funds). To date, VAOT has invested $32,656 and the Town $8,825 in engineering this project. The engineering costs have increased during the project due to additional permitting, easement, and regulatory requirements that were managed by the engineering firm. The Town has requested additional funding from VAOT and has warned a special Town meeting for April 27, 2005 to authorize an additional expenditure of up to $35,000 in order to be able to accept the low bid by the bid deadline of April 29, 2005. Alternatives: The town has explored other stabilization alternatives to the designed project. 1) Have the Town Highway department stabilize the bridge: The routine maintenance of the bridge was managed by the Town Highway Department for many years until it was closed to traffic. However, rebuilding the wing walls is beyond the capacity of the Town Highway Department. Other possible temporary measures such as bolstering the wing walls with rip rap could interfere with the flow of the brook and require additional work to meet state erosion control regulations. If feasible, this would still cost the Town, through use of the Highway department, possibly through the need of additional help to assist with permitting and would not fully solve the problem. 2) Work out a simpler project directly with an experienced contractor: An experienced bridge construction firm gave an opinion about reduced measures that would address the wing walls. However, these measures would be short-term solutions and were roughly estimated at $65,000 - $80,000. Furthermore, this approach would not be eligible for the 80% matching funds from VAOT. Of the $30,991 authorized by 2002 Town Meeting, only $22,166 remains for use in the construction phase. This would mean an additional town allocation of $45,000 or more to change to this type of project. 3) Do nothing: A final alternative of doing nothing would mean the complete closing of this connector trail as its safety deteriorates further and the eventual loss of this historic bridge. 4) Go forward with comprehensive project as designed and bid: As discussed above, the town can authorize a total of up $65,991 to permanently restore and repair the bridge and correct the drainage around the wing walls. Costs & Budget: Engineering, permitting& easements $ 41,482.00 (already spent) Total Construction Contract as bid…………………$ 237,445.00 8% Contingency…………………………………….$ 18,996.00 Legal fees…………………………………………...$ 500.00 In-Kind work………………………………………..$ 5055.00 (Putney Hwy Dept. & Town Manager) Construction Management………………………….$ 12,000.00 TOTAL……………………………………………..$315,478.00 20% - Town Share…………………………………$ 63,096.00 80% VAOT portion (if approved) $252,238.00 ($32,656 spent to date) Town Share of new project cost $ 63,096.00* Current town appropriation ……………….………..$ 30,991.00 ($8,825 spent to date) Additional town portion needed.………………….$ 32,105.00 *Note that a grant application has been submitted to the Connecticut River Joint Commissions Partnership Program requesting $5,000 (program maximum) for this project. The Town will hear about this grant in May.
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