Bristol board mulls future of the South Street bridge

BRISTOL — The Bristol selectboard is considering what to do with the recently closed South Street Bridge, which the town shut down last week because of safety concerns.
At a meeting of the board Monday night, town administrator Bill Bryant outlined three options the town could adopt to reopen the span.
The town could cover 10 percent of the cost of two options that would effectively rebuild the bridge. Option one is a $2.1 million project to install a new truss. Option two — which would take longer — is a $2 million project to construct a new bridge, which would mean straightening a road and acquiring surrounding property.
A third option is a $1.9 million bridge rehabilitation for which the town would pay 5 percent, or $95,000, and would mean higher upkeep costs, Bryant said.
The difference in all three cases would be covered by state funds.
Selectmen made no decision and will discuss the bridge options at a future meeting after getting more information from the state and after a meeting with state transportation officials Aug. 30.
The selectboard also began the process of hiring an additional part-time police officer. In executive session, board members reviewed the credentials of a fully accredited police officer Police Chief Kevin Gibbs recommended for a part-time position. The selectboard decided to meet with the candidate, who has a full-time job outside law enforcement, at its next meeting.
The police department currently employs four part-time officers in addition to its full-time staff of three. A $10,000 cut in the police budget that voters approved last month effectively eliminated the possibility of hiring a full-time replacement for an officer who has left the force.
As a result of the reduced budget, Gibbs explained that he has cancelled all of the department’s public speaking engagements and that officers are now hesitant to use their sick leave due to staffing limitations.
Bryant said that the force would likely not be able to provide all of its current services, but added that the reduced staff would not effect responses to emergencies.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the selectboard:
• Set the town’s tax rate for the next fiscal year (see story, Page 1A).
• Voted to reduce the hours of operation of the town landfill by one hour, meaning it will be open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays effective Sept 4.
The landfill will retain its normal hours of 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesdays until mid-January, when it will begin closing an hour early for the winter months.
Reporter George Altshuler is at [email protected]

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