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INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
BRANDON'S HISTORIC SANDERSON COVERED BRIDGE AT RISK WHAT BRIDGERS CAN DO TO SAVE THE SANDERSON BRIDGE
BRIDGE-WATCH ACTION IN CAMBRIDGE JUNCTION VCBS HOLDS FIRST ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING
COVERED BRIDGE MUSEUM FUNDING APPLIED FOR VTrans POLAND BRIDGE TEAM MEETS WITH SELECTBOARD, RESIDENTS VCBS PRESERVATION POLICY COMMITTEE FORMED TOWN OF DANVILLE TO GET GRANT FOR GREENBANKS HOLLOW C B THE TOWN OF NEWFANE MAY SAVE THE WILLIAMSVILLE C B BID TO REHABILITATE BROWNS RIVER BRIDGE ACCEPTED BRIDGE TALK - See Index Page VOLUNTEERS WANTED! LETTERS ADS - Covered Bridge Stuff
PRESIDENT'S PAGE: A YEARS-END POTPOURRI
Report by Ed Barna
It's another Paper Mill Bridge project in the making: the Brandon Select Board has specified a
20-ton capacity for the Sanderson Covered Bridge, and the Public Works Director said the
preliminary plans suggest that most of the original timbers will have to be removed to do it. The
town had voted to put in a new concrete bridge at a new crossing and save the old covered bridge
where it is, stabilized for pedestrians and cyclists. But when archeologists uncovered rich sites
along the new road for the new bridge, and said it would take about $200,000 to investigate them,
the board balked, put it up for a re-vote, and the town agreed to rebuild the historic bridge for 20
Now Jeffords has found nearly $500,000 to fund restoration. I got the press release as a reporter, and called back and said "What do you mean this money is for authentic preservation?" and told them everything. Told Jeffords, too, at a press conference in Florence the next weekend. They know there are issues, and I think we have a chance to weigh in here. The $500,000 could handle the archeology and more, and the bridge could be saved--but it would require a re-vote. I asked to be on the agenda for the Select Board meeting November 13.
At that meeting, I found that their initial plans for renovation from the Vermont Agency of Transportation include removal of a large number of timbers, and alerted them that there is another viewpoint on what it takes to carry 20 tons. I suggested they should invite John Weaver, P.E. down before finalizing any plans.
John Weaver, a VAOT engineer, had looked at the Sanderson Bridge a few years ago and felt the structure "was salvageable" and would be capable of handling up to 20 tons if work was properly carried out and if people could "live with Glu-lam." By that, he meant for the bottom chord, which is severely rotted. Other than that, he told me, there needs o be some work on the east side abutment (which he said could be re-clad in marble to look as it did now), the roof is in bad shape and should be standing seam metal, the siding is shot, and there would have to be new floor beams. But for the lattice and roof bracing, the most visible and distinctive part, only "sistering" of some weak planks would be necessary no wholesale removal and replacement.
I also recommended that the Board seriously consider hiring Jan Lewandoski to do the work, even if his bid was at a premium, because he has distinguished himself as an authentic restorer and builder of covered bridges.
I tried not to be antagonistic and unrealistic, though I did suggest that rather than a Paper Mill restoration they would do better to use the Jeffords money for archeology and go back to the idea of two bridges. That would give the town a new chapter of its history to present to visitors, and with so many "holes" in the line of downtown storefronts, and with a bypass a certainty in the long run due to rising traffic congestion according to experts, history may be Brandon's only way to draw people in and revitalize its downtown.
Work is slated to begin in 2002.
Perhaps the best thing bridgers could do is send a message to Select Board, c/o Town Offices,
49 Center Street, Brandon, VT 05733 and say, in effect, "We care about this bridge as an
authentic piece of history, and so do a lot of other people who travel around to photograph, paint,
draw, and just explore these bridges. It's one of Vermont's biggest covered bridges in one of the
most secluded rural settings. Please don't destroy it in order save it."
by William McKone
Three VCBS members undertook a volunteer action to maintain the Canyon Covered Bridge over the Brewster River, Jeffersonville, VT, on November 13. A total of 8 man-hours were contributed by Ron Bechard (life member), Zeke Zucker (first dues-paying member of the VCBS), and Bill McKone (one of the VCBS founders). The Burr-arch bridge, built in 1880, still carries considerable traffic over the Brewster as part of the town road system, but has suffered some neglect. We were able to remove considerable trash and several hundred pounds of road dirt from the bridge trusses and deck and attempted to clean the metal grid road-water bar which was packed solid with road mud the consistency of concrete. This was not possible using our hand tools, so Zeke asked the town road crew to clean out this important feature and this was promptly done.
This was the initial effort of this type under the auspices of the VCBS, to the best of our knowledge, and the following comments are provided for other volunteer "bridge-watchers" to consider.
1. Any action of this type should be undertaken only with the knowledge and approval of the owner of the bridge (in this case, we had the approval of the Cambridge Select Board).
2. While the goal is help preserve the bridge, the main focus must be on safety. We posted one orange traffic cone and a white bucket at the bridge approaches, along with the sign stating "The Vermont Covered Bridge Society at work. Bridge clean-up in progress. Please drive carefully." Note: this bridge, unfortunately like others on back roads, has no speed limit posted and lacks other signage. The guard rails have been broken and traffic, often of large pick-ups (despite the "No Trucks" sign at one end), moves frequently and rapidly through the bridge. We made it a point to warn each other of traffic constantly.
3. Some cosmetic benefit comes from picking up the trash around the bridge and the removal trash from the truss itself helps to preserve it. The deck had several inches of pebbles, dirt, and "sure-pack" which we scraped off, swept up and removed. Every effort was made to keep from causing this debris, probably heavy with road salt, to fall in the Brewster River.
4. The bulk of the dirt was removed from the truss using a heavy-duty vacuum we had rented along with a generator. It was necessary to break up crusted deposits and we found that an ice- chopper (like a hoe with a straight blade) worked well. The industrial-strength vacuum picked up even larger rocks, but we needed some attachments (which were not supplied) to get into the joints and properly clean them.
5. We did not attempt to repair the many damaged areas of the structure nor did we make any repairs or changes to any of the safety features, such as the guard rails. We feel that the best approach there is to report to the owner in writing what deficiencies we noted and follow-up to see that proper repairs are made as part of the routine maintenance.
Our estimate was that a cleaning of this type had not been done for several years, despite the fact that the bridge is inspected every two years by the state for safety. One end of the bottom chord and a nearby floor joist showed some signs of rotting after we removed about 5 to 6 inches of dirt, leaves, and trash from where the arch meets the abutment. We also noted the alarming impact of vehicles entering the bridge at 20 plus MPH where the concrete apron at the west end of the bridge is perhaps two inches higher than the bridge decking. Spending several hours on the bridge itself gives a unique and informative perspective to the demands being placed on the structure.
Montpelier, Saturday, November 11 - Nine intrepid Bridgers gathered in a light rain at the
Montpelier Junction Park and Ride lot at 10 a.m. for a tour of Northfield's Covered Bridges
conducted by John Weaver.
Ron Bechard, of the nominating committee, gave the outcome of the election of officers, which was done by mailed-in ballot. Elected for terms of one year were incumbent Joe Nelson, President; William Mc Cone, V. President; Ruth Nelson, Secretary; and incumbent Shirley Hill, Treasurer. Their terms begin Jan.1, 2001. There were 56 ballots cast of 128 ballots mailed to the membership. The vote to approve the Constitution and By-Laws was passed with 53 votes with three abstaining.
Ron Bechard, Jim Fearon and Marge Converse comprised the Nomination Committee. Prior to the election, they were instructed by Joe Nelson to scan the membership rolls for anyone who could reasonably expected to be able attend Board of Director's meetings regularly, and he asked them also to call on non-member acquaintances who would be willing join the Society to run for office. Each of the interviewees were to be asked to run for any of the four offices open. When the committee completed its work, only five people consented to be placed on the ballot, including the very able John Weaver, who ran for Vice President.
Bill McKone, Vice President Elect had been serving as interim Secretary. Ed Barna, a Founding Director who had served as Vice President, chose not to run for re-election for personal reasons. Mr. Barna continues as a member of the Board of Directors as Publicity Chairman.
In reviewing the election, and the fact that all but one candidate was running unopposed, Joe Nelson commented that for the health of the organization, more members should step forward to serve, and to make it easier for them to succeed, future elections should be preceded with an information campaign to acquaint the membership with the people who consent to be on the ballot.
The Membership Report revealed that the VCBS numbers 142 members at last count. Also at last count,116 membership cards have been issued of which twenty-five are Family Memberships, nine Life Memberships including three honorary, and six Business Memberships. People from sixteen states have joined us.
John Weaver spoke on the anticipated work to be done on the Poland Bridge in Cambridge Junction. The first stage of the work, to be done this winter, will be stabilizing the bridge by using braces and steel rods , reinforcing the chords and then raising the bridge three feet. Bids will be open in December, 2000. The federal government has given 100% funding, up to one million dollars, for the restoration. Weaver estimated that the final cost would probably be around $600,000.00. The second stage will be done in 2001 under a separate contract. The bridge will be rehabilitated for light vehicle usage in the range of 3 to 8 tons.
Ed Barna reported on the planned rehabilitation of the Sanderson Bridge in Brandon, Vt. See his article in this issue. Also in this issue, are Bill McKone's thoughts and ideas on a proposed Covered Bridge Museum in Jeffersonville.
John Dostal gave a presentation on plans for a Covered Bridge Museum in the Bennington, Vt. area. Mr. Dostal is working with Bruce Laumeister, owner of the Bennington Center For the Arts, on West Road and Gypsy Lane. Mr. Laumeister plans to add a wing to his building in the form of a covered bridge to house a Covered Bridge Museum. Construction is to begin April, 2001 for completion by Fall tourist season. Neither grants or outside money will be needed for this endeavor as Mr. Laumeister will fund it. Mr. Dostal foresees pictures of every bridge ever built in Vt. being showcased, existing and gone, stories about them, items for educating the public about covered bridges, and a gift shop selling covered bridge articles. Mr. Dostal is also hoping to have a replica of the Governor Robinson Covered Bridge built over the Walloomsac River at the Robinson Mansion, the bridge's original site.
Amendments to the VCBS Constitution and By-Laws had been voted on and ratified by mail-in ballots. However, after the text and the ballots had been mailed to the membership, the IRS notified the Society that some stipulations needed to be included in the by-laws to be eligible for 501(c)(3), that is, to be designated as a non-profit organization, gifts to which are tax deductible. Those stipulations are now included in the amended VCBS Constitution and By-Laws. The amendment was unanimously accepted by the meeting. A copy of the amended portion of the Constitution and By-laws has been mailed to the membership with the meeting minutes. The Secretary is waiting for confirmation from the IRS that 501(c)(3) status has been approved for us.
Mr. Nelson distributed the text of a proposed Covered Bridge Preservation Policy and asked for volunteers to form a committee to amend it. After the policy has been finalized, the committee will present it to the Society for adoption.
Terry Shaw displayed an oil painting by Eric Tobin depicting the Cambridge Junction Bridge donated to the VCBS by the artist. A smaller version of this painting was presented to Senator Jeffords on August 22. This painting and two covered bridge watercolors by John Weaver will be digitized and sold at various locations throughout Vermont. The Tobin painting will be on display at the Mary Bryan Gallery from time to time and can be seen there on request. Proceeds will go to the VCBS. The paintings will be displayed at the Mary Bryan Memorial Gallery and the bank office in Jeffersonville.
by William McKone In early November, the VCBS submitted an application for Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds to create a transportation museum featuring covered bridges. These federal highway funds are administered by the state and will be awards will be made in February 2001, with the funding available at the start of the next fiscal year in July 2001. The federal funds require a 20 percent local match, but much of this can be "in kind," that is, contributions of labor and materials (including artifacts for the museum).
The owner of a uniquely suitable property on the edge of the village of Jeffersonville the former Windridge Tennis Camp has signed a letter of intent to lease the two existing buildings and most of the 20 acres of adjacent level land to the VCBS for the museum. Terms of the 5-year lease require that the VCBS pay only the taxes and insurance (about $7,500 per year). One building in good repair houses two indoor tennis courts and will provide extensive space for the display of the museum exhibits. The other, a dormitory, requires considerable rehabilitation before it can be used for that or any other purpose.
The TE application is for a total of $400,000 $320,000 in federal funds and a local match of $80,000 in value but options were given for funding at the $300,000 or $200,000 levels. Based on the criteria given for the selection of projects for funding, we feel that this is a competitive project. However, other sources of funding are also being explored both as local matching funds for the TE requirement or as separate grants.
A special bank account is being established for contributions in support of this museum and such donations will be welcomed. We will also be looking for donation of all kinds of artifacts related to Vermont's historic covered bridges photos, documents, tools, vehicles, etc. The state may also be willing to donate entire bridges when the repair of a historic covered bridge will result in essentially building a replica and no other suitable home is available for the original bridge.
Any input on what exhibits, displays, demonstrations, classes, or other activities might be included in the museum's operations will be appreciated and can be sent to Bill McKone, Vice-President elect of the VCBS. Anyone who would like to help with the project is also encouraged to get involved.
Jeffersonville - The VTrans design team presented plans to stabilize the Poland Bridge
to a standing room only crowd in the tiny Cambridge Town office building.
Covered bridge preservation advocates Ed Barna, Dick Wilson, and David Wright and
wooden bridge professionals Neil Daniels, Jan Lewandoski, Phil Pierce, and John Weaver have
agreed to work together to draft a covered bridge preservation policy that the VCBS can pursue.
Joe Nelson has volunteered to act as moderator. All are members of the VCBS.
The town of Danville will receive a $300,000 grant approved by the U.S. Department of
Transportation under the National Covered Bridge Preservation Act, authored by Senator Jim
Jeffords to repair the Greenbanks Hollow Covered Bridge. The act provides 80 percent federal
funding for historic bridge reconstruction and research.
Rather than allow the old span to be destroyed in the process of building a modern replica, the
Select Board is working on a plan to move it to preserve it.
Reported by Phil Pierce
I think it is official that the Town and Historical Society have accepted the bid of Renaud Brothers to rehabilitate the bridge and foundations and move it back on the abutments. It is unclear about the schedule, but will be done by the middle of next year; maybe much sooner.
A synopsis of the work to be done:
The existing timber structure needs some additional work. The top chord of the south truss has been attacked by Powder Post Beetles and must be replaced (hopefully no other members will be found to be affected). A few members must be replaced (one tie beam, a couple of laterals, and a couple of posts). Some missing bottom kickers between the bottom chord and the posts must be replaced. The large bolster beams installed earlier must have some additional shear keys installed.
The foundations need to have new concrete caps and the East Abutment has a bad concrete facing on the downstream side that must be replaced.
The Town must provide some matching funds (equivalent work) and the final distribution of who will do what is somewhat up in the air. The Town will at least do the final site finishing work and may install a timber plank deck.
Requirements: Computer with e-mail address. If you have WordPerfect, it's a plus but not a requirement.
Duties: Collect stories, edit, and compose the quarterly issues of The Bridger.
Candidates please contact Joe Nelson, 2 Sugar Hill Road, Underhill, VT 05489, or to firstname.lastname@example.org]
October 13, 2000
As an individual very interested in the preservation of Vermont's historic covered bridges, I
am extremely upset to see these old spans being torn down and replaced with replicas. This is not
restoration; it's destruction, pure and simple!
The VCBS has passed another milestone -- we've had our first Annual Meeting. The
attendance wasn't large, but it was enthusiastic. We'll do a few things differently next year, like
find a date that doesn't conflict with the meetings of the National and the New York
Societies we share a lot of members.
Happy Bridging and Happy Holidays to all.
Watch this space - ads coming
Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267, email@example.com
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