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Work Begins on Cambridge Junction Covered Bridge
Kick-off Meeting Held

Cambridge, Vt. February 12 - The Cambridge Junction Covered Bridge stabilization project kick-off meeting was held at 10:00 a.m., a cold Monday with the temperature in the teens.
         Gathered before the portal of the old bridge were: Ron Bechard, Vermont Covered Bridge Society Bridge-watch; Al Campo, Agency of Transportation NW Regional Construction Engineer; Ray Hayes, AOT Project Resident Engineer; David Hoyne, AOT Structures Project Manager; Frank Hutchins, Town of Cambridge Selectman; Bill McKone, VCBS V.P. & Bridge-watch Chair.; Joe Nelson, VCBS Pres. & newsletter editor; Pam Thurber, AOT Bridge Inspection Program, Dana Sweet, Town of Cambridge Selectboard Chair.; and John Weaver, AOT Materials Engineer.

Cambridge Jct. Bridge Kick-off Meeting. Photo by Joe Nelson, Feb. 12,
2001 From right to left: John Weaver, David Hoyne, Ray Hayes, and Al Campo

         The work on the bridge will be done in two stages under separate contracts, said Hoyne. The first stage will stabilize and raise the bridge to protect it from high water, ice and flotsam. The second stage will restore the bridge to carry light traffic.
        The first stage is to be complete by March 30, the plans and specifications for the second stage must be completed by September 1, Hoyne said. "We're going to advertise [for contractors] at that point and we'll probably have a completion date of the following fall. We have to have the plans completed by September, that's the critical milestone to keep all of the money."
        The funds for the work on the bridge are coming from the $10 million National Historic Bridge Program announced by Senator James Jeffords last August. The $1 million provided for the Cambridge Junction Bridge was received by the Vermont Agency of Transportation in August to be immediately available to allow steps to be taken to ensure that the bridge survives the winter. An estimated $200,000 will be spent on the first phase of the project; to stabilize the structure against heavy snow load or additional ice damage.
        "So the plan of attack at this point," said Hoyne, "The contractor is going to come in and remove the runners [from the bridge floor, lightening dead load], install vertical [steel] rod [by each vertical post], they are going to excavate behind the ends of the bridge so they can get their jacks in there and they going to [raise the bridge] a little bit at a time."
        The bridge is to be raised and set on timber cribbing to a height of about three feet.
        The bridge is located a few yards from a right-of-way that once belonged to the St. Johnsbury and Lamoille County Railroad. "There is a push on to get this railroad put back in service," said Sweet. "I think whatever you do, I don't think we can infringe on that without taking on the commitment to raise the grade of the tracks, I don't think we want to get messed up in that right now."
        "We are going to do everything we can to avoid that," replied Hoyne. We've got to see what that leaves us for approaches. Because if you raise the grade three feet, it might not be an ideal situation, but as long as its for light vehicles, most light vehicles can negotiate an eight or ten percent grade without much difficulty. The bridge is to be designed for light vehicle use, and we're going on the assumption of about three tons. We're doing a hydraulic study to find out how high the bridge has to be."
        A preliminary study found that the bottom chords (main beams) could be 18 inches under water during the spring run-off, said Weaver.
        Ultimately the bridge abutments will be worked on. "One of the abutments is sloughing off laid-up stone, falling into the river," said Hoyne. "We're going to clean up the substructure. Right now you have laid up stone, and a hodge-podge of cast concrete. For the long term project we're going to try to rebuild all of that, make it look like it was intended to." Also, in the long term, the bridge will get new roofing and siding, and a new floor system, he said.
        Concerned about the angle of the roads approaching the bridge, Sweet asked how the funds have to be used.
        "Normally they don't get too involved in town and highway projects," responded Hoyne. but because it's a million dollars in funds right from Jeffords' office, the Feds have elected to have full oversight, which means everything we do, they're looking very closely at. Anything other than what they deem necessary approach work to get up to the new elevation of the bridge, they are going to scrutinize very carefully. The substructure work, and reasonable approach work is all part of the project."

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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267, jcnelson@together.net

No part of this web site may be reproduced without the written permission of Joseph C. Nelson
Text Copyright © 2000, Joseph C. Nelson
Photograph Copyright ©, 2000, Joseph C. Nelson
This file posted February 16, 2001, rev. April 14, 2001