Warrant Article Seeks Bridge Funding

It’s a start on a plan to deal with town bridge problems.

By Jim Danforth

Of the 20 bridges owned by the town, eight are on the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Red List, three are closed, two are limited to foot traffic, one is structurally deficient, one is functionally obsolete, and four are in good shape. If the Morrill Hill Road Bridge project is completed this year, we will have only seven Red Listed bridges and five in good shape.

Andover has paid just over $80,000 to date on the Morrill Hill Bridge project, which is projected to be 20% of the total cost, the remaining funding being provided by the State. Andover has a Capital Reserve Fund for bridges, specifically to fund the Town’s share of bridge projects that qualify for state aid. The fund currently has a balance of $154,000.

All the parenthetic numbers that follow refer to the DOT bridge map for Andover, which you can view here.

The Cilleyville-Bog Covered Bridge (049/094) is open to foot traffic only, does not qualify for any state aid, and currently has a specific reserve fund with a balance of around $4,000. The bridge is currently listed as “Not Deficient.”

Bradley Lake Road Bridge 1 (097/072) is functionally obsolete, which is descriptive of the design; the bridge is structurally sound and was rebuilt in 2000.

Cilleyville Road Bridge (053/092), Bradley Lake Road Bridge 2 (100/090), Maple Street Bridge over Sucker Brook (171/131), and Dyers Crossing Bridge (199/144) are all in good shape. All were rebuilt after 2005, with the exception of Cilleyville Road Bridge, which was rebuilt in 1996.

Excluding Morrill Hill Bridge (127/106), of the seven remaining Red Listed bridges, two are structurally deficient: Last Street Bridge (216/139) and Keniston Covered Bridge (083/098). DOT has estimated that Last Street Bridge will cost $145,000 and that the Keniston Covered Bridge will be in the range of $350,000 if replaced with a modern span.

Kearsarge Mountain Road Bridge (065/075), Hall Road Bridge (104/078), Taunton Hill Road Bridge (125/129), and Valley Road Bridge (180/147) require differing amounts of work. DOT estimates that repairs on three of the four at $645,000; Kearsarge Mountain Road Bridge has not been estimated.

The last Red Listed bridge is Maple Street Bridge, which goes over the Rail Trail; this bridge can be closed at little to no cost to the town at any time, as it is considered redundant.

Closed Bridges

Andover has three closed bridges that will need to be removed at some point and are low-priority projects: Ragged Mountain Brook (071/103), Tucker Brook on Valley Road (176/150), and Hoyt Bridge over Sucker Brook (197/146). Gale Road Bridge (041/110) is currently open to foot traffic, but will need to be removed at some point.

DOT estimates that it will cost between $40,000 and $50,000 to remove all four bridges. These projects do not qualify for any state aid.

The structurally deficient bridge, Lawrence Street (098/093), was built in 1930 and a new deck was installed about 20 years ago. DOT is concerned about the abutments, decking, and approaches to the bridge. DOT has not formally estimated the cost of repair or rebuild, but based on like projects in the state and assuming the project receives state aid, the Town share to rebuild the bridge would exceed $500,000.

Of the $140 million the state has to spend on roads and bridges, only $8 million is set aside each year to address municipal bridges. In August of 2012, DOT stated, “Currently, we are eight to ten years out at the very least to fund the (new) projects towns are asking us to fund.”

Every two years, DOT issues an updated 10-year plan showing anticipated start dates for funded projects and approved projects. The draft 2013-2023 10-year plan is currently showing no projects for municipal bridges in Andover.

At Town Meeting, voters will be asked to place an additional $25,000 into the bridge reserve fund, name the Board of Selectmen as agents to expend; and expand the bridge reserve fund’s purpose to include all bridge projects, including maintenance. Hall Farm Road Bridge (104/078) and Last Street Bridge (216/139) will need to be rebuilt or replaced soon, and without state aid.

This is a first step in development of a plan to comprehensively address our municipal bridges. Please support it.