Salisbury to vote on Thursday, June 2, on $1 million bridge replacement

SALISBURY — Salisbury residents on June 2 will be asked to approve a $1 million plan to replace the Maple Street Bridge, a well-traveled, 97-year-old span in the village that has been steadily deteriorating.
The bridge replacement project is one of three referenda local citizens will field through the Australian ballot vote. Residents will also decide whether to:
•  Make a housekeeping change in their property tax payment schedule. Starting this year, property tax bills are being split into two installments, the first due Oct. 5, the second April 5. Salisbury has always charged interest on taxes unpaid after the due date. But now that there are two payment deadlines, this vote is needed to specify the consequences of unpaid taxes after each installment date, according to Salisbury selectboard Chairwoman Martha Sullivan.
•  Change their annual town meeting date from the Monday prior to the first Tuesday in March, to the Saturday prior to the first Tuesday in March.
“Several people have indicated they would prefer to come during the day on Saturday, instead of Monday evening,” Sullivan said. “We figured we’d put it on (the ballot) and see what the people think.”
The marquee item on the ballot, however, will be the Maple Street Bridge project. Residents will specifically be asked to float a 30-year, $850,000 bond to cover Salisbury’s share of the $1 million project. The town has secured a $175,000 grant from the state to cover the remaining expenses.
If residents approve the bond, the payback would have the effect of adding approximately $25 per year to a property valued at $200,000, according to Sullivan.
Also known as “Bridge No. 4,” the span is located five-tenths of a mile north of the intersection of Maple Street and West Shore Road. It is 26 feet long and 26.5 feet wide from curb to curb. It has a posted weight limit of 10 tons. The bridge spans the Leicester River and accommodates an estimated 270 vehicle trips per day, according to state traffic counts.
Officials said the bridge has substantially exceeded its 80-year life expectancy — and it shows. A recent engineering report listed such deficiencies as “significant” deterioration and scour to the bridge abutment and stem wall; deteriorating concrete “T” beams; and a cracked and stained concrete deck.
Sullivan said state and regional transportation authorities have ranked the Maple Street Bridge as a top priority for replacement.
Town officials a few years ago considered the option of repairing the bridge, as opposed to replacing it.
“Repair would probably only extend the life of the bridge for another 20 to 25 years, but we would probably get another 80 years if we replaced it,” Sullivan said. “We (the selectboard) decided to go with replacement.”
Many years ago, Maple Street in Salisbury essentially served the same role that Route 7 does, according to Sullivan. And while the subsequent construction of Route 7 took a lot of pressure off Maple Street and its bridge, the road still gets a fair share of local and pass-through traffic — including from those seeking to bypass Route 7, Sullivan noted. Some Lake Dunmore-area traffic uses Maple Street to get to Route 7, as do local residents while traveling to the post office and the town offices, according to Sullivan.
If the project is approved on June 2, construction work would be done in concert with Green Mountain Power’s replacement of its adjacent penstock that feeds a nearby hydro plant, according to Salisbury Selectman Tom Scanlon.
Polls will be open at the Salisbury town offices from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 2.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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