Report On Condition Of Taftsville Covered Bridge Released To Public

October 5, 2011

in Uncategorized

by Charlie Wilson,
Taftsville News
Some may be quick to accuse me of being the Julian Assange of Taftsville, running a Wikileaks Ops out of my home, but the report I have in front of me was not stolen by a covert operations officer in the dead of night.
In the spirit of full disclosure, the report originated with the Department of Transportation, sent to the Town of Woodstock, then sent to the Two Rivers/Ottauquechee Regional Commission, where I serve on the board as the Woodstock representative.
I’m sure everyone in Taftsville would like to have a better understanding of the state of their bridge. Here is a summary of the report:
The west abutment, which would be the Route 4 side of the bridge, was found to be in critical condition. The downstream side exhibited significant settlement, displaced (outwardly deflected) stones, full-depth scouring under the concrete skirt wall, a significant full depth diagonal crack running through the masonry and skirt wall, and an estimated decrease in the timber arch effectiveness.
Approximately 40 linear feet of upstream tail-race masonry wall has collapsed and washed downstream.
Approximately 50 linear feet of retaining wall at the SE corner of the bridge has collapsed and washed downstream.
Significant erosion is present at the NW corner of the bridge.
Large trees and debris have been snagged by the pier (the bridges central support set in the river bed) and the timber bolsters.
There is evidence of misplaced and missing pier stones.
There is also significant erosion and bank cutting in the downstream channel, wooden stairs next to the SE corner of the bridge are undermined, the timber arches extending below the bridge have been scraped and scratched by debris, and there is a large propane tank located on an island in the middle of the river channel, immediately downstream of the pier.
Mike Willis, our local engineer with his business office located across Route 4 from the bridge, observed the event and had this to add to the report:
A large section of ledge in the middle of the stream channel appears to have been moved downstream from the base of the Taftsville Dam to a location near the upstream face of the bridge pier. At the height of the flood, the water surface elevation was approximately 5 feet above the spillway of the dam. The pier cribbing was observed to be “pumping” (moving up and down) on the upstream face of the pier during the flood.
As most were aware, the bridge was already slated for a major rehabilitation soon (possibly as early as the end of this year), which would have closed the bridge to all traffic for one year. Now with the storm damage, it appears we will be without the bridge for two years in the best of circumstances. It will be an inconvenience to all of us.
The Taftsville Country Store and Sugarbush Farm will see their retail business adversely affected by the closure, most severely during the summer and fall seasons. In order for them to weather this perfect storm of normal repairs compounded by the flood, one hopes the town and state will do everything in their power to get the bridge reopened as soon as is possible, with the understanding that it will not happen next month, nor for that matter next year. I would like to see them strive for early 2013, and not the end of that year.

This article first appeared in the September 22nd print edition of the Vermont Standard.

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