Replacement of Route 116 bridge in Bristol to start this fall

BRISTOL — Two Bristol bridges — the one-lane bridge on Route 116 south of the village and the bridge on South Street just down the hill from downtown — are on track to get some much-needed construction.
The town is moving forward with renovation on the one-lane bridge — an important commuter link —this fall, Town Administrator Bill Bryant said. A detour with a temporary two-lane bridge will be established in the parking lot of the Sycamore Park area, while the current one-lane bridge will be dismantled and replaced. J.A. McDonald, a Vermont bridge construction company based in Lyndon Center, was the lowest bidder and will complete the state-funded project.
The state of Vermont will pick up the entire tab for the Route 116 bridge renovations, which Bryant estimated would be between $5 million and $6 million.
The one-lane bridge on Route 116 will be completely demolished and a new, two-lane bridge built in its stead. Once construction gets under way in the fall, drivers will take a slight detour over a temporary two-lane bridge near the site. The building company has ordered steel for the bridge from a mill in Maine, which will likely not arrive until July 2014. In the meantime, all of the abutments, grading and other preliminary construction on the area and approach roads will be completed. Construction on the bridge itself will be completed throughout the summer of 2014, and planners hope that the bridge will be open to traffic by fall of 2014.
“Then, taking the detour bridge out and getting any final landscaping in will have to happen,” Bryant explained. “It’s expected that some aspects of the project will linger into spring 2015.”
Access to Sycamore Park and traffic through Route 116 will be unimpeded throughout the construction process.
The project has been discussed since the mid-1980s, when the structure was perceived to be deteriorating. The stoplight was installed in 1991 to reduce traffic weight by half by making it one-lane.
Though the fix has been a long time coming, builders plan to take a comprehensive approach. That means a bigger bridge — Bryant said the deck of the bridge would be elevated 10 feet higher and would be about three times as long as the current bridge, stretching across the brook that runs near the New Haven River.
“There will be a lot of cutting and filling (in the surrounding area) to make that work,” Bryant said. “Our entrance into the park will be a little bit different and the parking area we end up with will be a little bit different.”
The South Street bridge, which has been closed due to structural failure since 2010, went out to bid at the same time as the Route 116 bridge. Morrisville-based construction company Blow & Coty will get started on that project in the fall, Bryant said, though construction will likely not be completed until the following fall.
“It’s exciting to be getting both of these projects off the ground,” Bryant said.
The town will pick up 5 percent of the construction costs and 10 percent of the design costs for the South Street bridge, the total of which is likely coming in well below its original estimated cost of $2 million. Voters approved a bond for $300,000 in repairs and renovations on Town Meeting Day 2012, but Bryant said the town will likely only end up paying about $100,000 to $120,000. The state will pick up the remainder of the costs.

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