Dismantling Of Taftsville Covered Bridge Is Moving Along

December 21, 2011

in News



by Charlie Wilson,
Taftsville News
Well, Liza stepped out of the house, so as promised I’m frantically composing my column on the state of Taftsville’s bridges before she gets back and can pull the plug on my computer. I don’t know why she’s so convinced I’m turning into a troll. I like bridges. Lots of people like bridges.
Heck, today I had someone else approach me and say how much they’d enjoyed the articles about bridges. That’s two, count ‘em, two fans of my bridge articles I’ve run into in the last week. Who knows how many more there are out there. It could be several, I figure. This one’s for all of you.
First the Happy Valley Road bridge. As I reported earlier, the bridge itself is in fine shape; it’s the north abutment (which is the hamlet, or Route 4 side of the bridge) that is in serious danger of sliding into the brook and damming up the water.
The dry stone wall has failed in its duty as a retaining wall, and the entire north bank is migrating inexorably towards the brook; the movement is evidenced in the gap between stones that has appeared on the side of the wall, and in the drop in elevation up top; the northeast bank is beginning to resemble a sinkhole, and the road has dropped several inches below the level of the bridge surface.
I spoke with the engineer on site as he discussed his stabilization plans with a parade of construction firms seeking to bid on the job. He was charged with finding a way to halt the movement of the wall and riverbank until a new retaining wall could be built this coming summer.
His solution was an ingenious one. He has designed a wooden crib that will span the brook beneath the bridge and above the water. The crib will use the undamaged south retaining wall as an anchor, or base. In the event of flood waters, the crib’s wood design will allow it to release downstream, and not become a dam blocking debris surging down the brook. This should keep the bridge open to traffic through the winter. When the retaining wall is replaced in the summer, there will be no choice but to close the bridge.
It should not last as long as the last time the bridge was closed for repairs, and maybe we’ll be lucky and get a temporary pedestrian bridge installed like we did then.
The Taftsville Covered Bridge looks like it is slowly being abducted by aliens. Last I checked three different crews are working on dismantling it. One crew constructed a coffer dam, so others could work down at the base of the south abutment, where new footings will be placed to arrest the sinking that has been occurring to that wall.
A second crew has been dismantling the bridge board by board, numbering each piece of the bridge before it’s moved to the town garage for storage over the winter.
A third crew from Maine has been working on removing the roof of the bridge; the metal will not be saved, but the rafters and roof decking will be marked and saved. When they are done the entire span from the center pier to the south bank will have evaporated for a time, leaving only the two laminated wooden arches, which will be stabilized so as to survive the winter.
What are the chances of some pranksters painting them golden, do you suppose? If it happens, you’ll read about it here first.

This article first appeared in the December 8th edition of the Vermont Standard.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Foliage January 3, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Hi Charlie, add me to your list of Bridge trolls as I love my covered bridges also. I guess there are at least 4-5 of us reading your articles on this subject. I’m trying to find what the current building structure is for Taftsville.
On the different websites its a “true mongrel” King and Queen post. But now that it’s been taken apart and put back together I’m wondering if this is still true… If you know the answer I would love to have you share it with me.
I just photographed it (first time since Oct 4th 2012) and it is a beauty. I hope that when Liza let’s you back on the computer, you have a few minutes to pass me the current stats for the bridge… :-)

Jeff “Foliage” Folger

Tom Mainelli June 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Yes, thank you Charlie – for writing these stories.

Carla Roy January 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Dear Mr. Wilson,
I guess people would call me a troll too, but I too love covered bridges. I am from Maine and I visited Vermont for the first time in May of 2011. A friend of mine and I stayed 4 nights in 2 different state parks in Vermont and saw almost 50 covered bridges. We photographed Quechee and Taftsville among the lot. It made me cry to see the damage the flood did to those bridges. I’m just glad we have pictures of what they looked like before the flood.
Vermont is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and if my children didn’t all live in Maine I would probably move there.
I’m sorry we didn’t get to see Bartonsville Bridge. It’s too bad that there are no plans to rebuild that one. The heritage of that beautiful state needs to be preserved in every way possible.
I’m already planning a second trip to Vermont for May of 2012. I’m going to revisit a few and see new ones as well. You can add my name to your list of loyal fans as well.
Sincerely,
Carla Roy

Richard Capen Jr December 29, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Dear Mr Wilson, I really enjoyed your article about the reconstruction of the Taftsville bridge. Iam also one of those trolls who loves covered bridges and travels Vermont in search of them. Recently I visited the Taftsville bridge as well as Quechee and Bartonsville in mid october. On my trip to Bartonsville I was able to find and photograph the remains of that covered bridge which were down river . From Bennington to Middlebury to White River Junction to Chester to Brattleboro I have taken pictures of many a covered bridge so please add my name to your list of loyal fans. your friend Richard Capen Jr

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