HOME PAGE: News - July 28, 2015




Informational Meeting on Route 100C Bridges Held

    by Andrew Martin

    JOHNSON – The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is continuing to seek further community input regarding the scheduled work to the twin bridges over the Gihon River on Route 100C in East Johnson that could be taking place in two years. As part of that work VTrans officials held a community input meeting on Monday, July 20 at the Johnson Municipal Building beginning at 8 p.m. as part of the regularly scheduled Johnson Selectboard meeting. Roughly 15 Johnson residents turned out for the meeting, which lasted just over an hour.
    Several different individuals spoke at the meeting, including VTrans’ Jennifer Fitch and Wendy Pelletier as well as chief engineer Ryan Henderson. The meeting began with a brief background presentation on the project. A scoping study performed roughly two years ago determined that the abutments of both bridges were sound but that the beams of Bridge 2 (the easternmost bridge) had suffered some deterioration.
    While the deck of Bridge 1 had not suffered such deterioration the narrowness of both bridges led VTrans officials to the decision that it would be best to replace the superstructures, a term that applies to the deck, beams, and surface of a bridge, of both bridges while also widening them from just over 21 feet wide to 28 feet. Once the superstructures are replaced on both bridges, they should have a life expectancy of 75 years according to VTrans.
    “A complete replacement of both bridges is not necessary since the abutments are fine,” stated Ryan Henderson at the meeting. Along with the complete replacement of both bridges another option that was discarded in favor of superstructure replacement was possible concrete patching on the beams of Bridge 2. In total the project to just replace the superstructures of the bridge is anticipated to cost between $1.5 and $1.8 million. No local match will be necessary for the project as the funding will be provided by the state and federal government.
    After considering the locale and the project as a whole VTrans officials have decided the Route 100C project makes a good candidate for the Accelerated Bridge Program (ABP). The program calls for Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC), which means that Route 100C will be closed completely while the work is going on. The closure of the road makes it possible for the work to be done much more quickly than other forms of construction while also ensuring a safer environment for construction workers. ABC also calls for less right-of-way work and results in less environmental impacts than a project where a temporary bridge is installed. Bridges constructed through the ABP are also cheaper and affect the traveling public for smaller amounts of time than other projects.
    As part of the work to the two bridges new superstructures will be placed atop the existing abutments. The wider superstructures that will be installed will also call for the existing abutments to be expanded slightly. These superstructures will be made of prefabricated and precast parts, which aid in the speedy completion of the project.
    A retaining wall will also likely be installed near Bridge 2 to counteract an embankment that is failing. The new bridges will also allow for increased hydraulic flow during high water.
    Following the presentation the representatives from VTrans sought community input on several specific questions regarding the project. The first dealt with possible traffic calming and control measures in the area. Residents in the area are concerned with traffic speeds and three possible solutions were presented. The first solution was centerline rumble stripes, the second option was 25 mph advisory signs, and the third was radar signs that would flash or display a cars’ speed if it was traveling over the posted 35 mph speed limit in the area of the bridges. The Johnson residents present at the meeting all voiced opposition to the centerline rumble stripe option while most seemed to be in favor of one or both of the sign options.
    The second question posed to residents at the meeting pertained to how long the project could take. Henderson explained that one option would see Route 100C closed for between 4-6 weeks but would call for the contractor to return to the site after the road opened back up to continue work. This would necessitate both bridges being reduced to one lane while the work continued after the 4-6 week period. The second option would be to have Route 100C closed for the entirety of the project, which would result in an additional few weeks of road closure. While the bridges and Route 100C are closed the official signed state detour would direct traffic onto Routes 15 and 100. The town also has the option of designating a local detour if the Johnson Selectboard chooses to do so. VTrans provides compensatory funding to towns that see added traffic on their roads during closures to state highways due to construction work.
    Johnson residents at the meeting expressed their support of the road being closed for the entirety of the project rather than for only a portion of it. VTrans officials at the meeting also confirmed that those individuals living between the two bridges would be able to reach their homes throughout the project no matter which option was chosen.
    The final public input question posed by VTrans officials at the meeting was when locals would most like to see the project occur. The work could either be scheduled for before or after the Lamoille County Field Days. Town officials and locals have previously expressed to VTrans the desire to have Route 100C open for Field Days since this would reduce the amount of traffic using local detours to reach the event. Johnson officials have no desire to see thousands of cars placing additional strain on town roads as motorists seek to find detour routes to and from the annual fair.
    Whether the project occurs before or after Field Days the road closure would affect school traffic either at the end of one school year or the beginning of the next one. Most community members present felt that having the work done before Field Days would be best, although many agreed that either option would be fine.
    VTrans officials also explained that the prep work at the site could be done before Field Days and then the actual bridge work begun following the fair in order to impact fall school bus routes less once school begins again. The final determination of how long the road will need to be closed could also play a factor in the dates chosen for the project. VTrans’ Jennifer Fitch also explained that since the ABP began in 2012 no bridge in the program has opened later than expected.
    Following the public input period of the meeting VTran’s Wendy Pelletier gave an outline of the timeline for the project moving forward. Final permitting for the project is scheduled for October of this year and the final design plans should be completed by November. The right-of-way negotiations are scheduled to begin in July of 2016, and barring any setbacks the job should go out to bid by September of 2016. The contract for the job would be awarded the following month, giving the contractor the rest of the fall and winter to order all the necessary prefabricated parts of the new superstructure. The actual construction work would then follow in the spring or summer of 2017.
    Anyone wishing to learn more about the project to replace the superstructures on the two bridges over the Gihon River can do so by visiting the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s Bridge Projects page at https://outside.vermont.gov/agency/vtrans/external/Projects/Lists/Vtrans%20Project%20List/AllItems.aspx?Searchfor=Bridge. The bridge projects around the state are listed on the page alphabetically by town.



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Field Day Fun '15


Mother Nature cooperated for a beautiful weekend for Lamoille County Field Days this year, even threatening Sunday morning skies parted for a beautiful sunny afternoon.
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