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Salisbury residents OK $850K bond for bridge

SALISBURY — Salisbury residents turned out at the polls in small numbers on Thursday to approve a three-article warning that included a $1 million proposal to replace the Maple Street Bridge in Salisbury village. The Australian ballot vote was 59 to 13 in favor of floating an $850,000 bond to cover the local costs of that project.
Also winning decisive approval were:
• A proposal to change Salisbury’s annual town meeting date from the Monday prior to the first Tuesday in March, to the Saturday prior to the first Tuesday in March. Voters endorsed this measure, 49-22.
• A housekeeping change in the community’s property tax payment schedule. Starting this year property tax bills will be split into two installments, the first due on Oct. 5 and the second on April 5.
Salisbury charges interest on taxes unpaid after the due date. But now that there are two payment deadlines this vote was needed to specify the consequences of unpaid taxes after each installment date, according to Salisbury selectboard Chairwoman Martha Sullivan.
The property tax clarification passed by a 52-20 margin.
Salisbury officials will now turn their attention to lining up the bridge replacement project.
Maple Street Bridge is 97 years old and has been steadily deteriorating. It is located five-tenths of a mile north of the intersection of Maple Street and West Shore Road. The bridge spans the Leicester River and handles an estimated 270 vehicle trips per day.
Officials note 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. It has a posted weight limit of 10 tons.
Construction work will be done in concert with Green Mountain Power’s replacement of its adjacent penstock, which feeds a nearby hydro plant.
Payback on the 30-year, $850,000 bond will have the effect of adding approximately $25 per year to a Salisbury property valued at $200,000, according to local officials. The town has secured a $175,000 grant from the state to cover the remaining project expenses.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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