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Hinsdale-Brattleboro Existing Bridges Project 10/15/20

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By Bob Audette, Brattleboro Reformer Oct 6, 2020 BRATTLEBORO — The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the future use of the two bridges connecting Brattleboro to Hinsdale, N.H. during an online forum on Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m. “Hinsdale and Brattleboro, the New Hampshire and Vermont departments of transportation and the Windham Regional Commission and the Southwest Region Planning Commission have been tasked with developing a vision for the bridges and The Island between them,” said J.B. Mack, principal planner for SWRPC. “We want that vision to be based on public feedback and what the public wants to see there.” Replacing the two truss bridges with a single span over the Connecticut River has been in the works for several years. The Charles Dana Bridge and the Anna Hunt Marsh Bridge were built in the 1920s and rehabilitated in 1988. Both bridges are considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient and are considered too narrow with not enough overhead clearance for modern traffic. The $60 million project calls for a new single span about 1,000 feet downriver from the current bridges, which will be rehabilitated for pedestrian use. Mack said the Zoom webinar will begin with a presentation from a representative from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, who will describe the project. Following that, an update will be given on the work performed by the Hinsdale-Brattleboro Bridge Project Advisory Committee and the Hinsdale-Brattleboro Existing Bridges Subcommittee. Mack said that over several meetings, the members of the Subcommittee developed a list of goals for the rehabilitation project, including: strengthening area social and economic relationships between the two states and the Hinsdale and Brattleboro communities; promoting active transportation such as walking and bicycling; enhancing recreation opportunities and river access; preserving the integrity of natural, historical and cultural resources; conserving fiscal resources and minimizing the financial impact of ongoing maintenance on local taxpayers; and ensuring the area is safe and clean. The webinar will allow members of the public to submit questions via the Zoom chat function. Mack said officials will attempt to answer all the questions during the webinar. Information obtained during the forum will also be posted to the websites of both WRC and SWRPC. “We are going to try to make the forum as participatory as possible,” said Mack. Webinar participants will also have the opportunity to view some ideas as produced by students in the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In December, the planning commissions hope to present to the public some concepts based on the ideas heard during the Oct. 15th forum. The project is set to go out to bid in January, with work scheduled to begin in the spring of 2021. The new bridge is expected to be open to the public in 2023 and rehabilitation of the old bridges is expected to begin the following year. The project has had several delays, many of them related to obtaining right-of-way easements along the Vermont side of the river. On Nov. 10, in what might be the final step in obtaining the right of ways, the Brattleboro Select Board will host a site visit to 28 Vernon St. and 12 Left Bank Way to consider the condemnation of an easement for the landing of the new bridge. According to documents presented to the Select Board on Oct. 6, “the Town is obligated to use its eminent domain powers to acquire lands or rights needed for the project, if said lands and rights cannot be acquired by negotiation.” The Nov. 19 hearing will be in two parts. The first to determine if the taking of the land is necessary for the project and the second to determine fair market value for the property. The taking consists of .23 acres and also calls for a temporary easement to allow construction vehicles to use the parking lot of 28 Vernon St. A scope of work for the bridge rehabilitation is being developed by the firm Hoyle, Tanner and Associates and the N.H. DOT has developed some road and sidewalk designs for the approaches to the bridges.

Production Date: 
Thursday, October 15, 2020 - 15:15

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