The Winooski Bridge is across the water

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The Winooski Bridge is across the water

Mon, 08/02/2021 - 9:33am -- tim

Cross Vermont Trail Association What a day! On July 23, 2021 the bridge was lifted into place across the river. The keystone is set! The Winooski Bridge was first identified as a top priority project 25 years ago, during the very initial surveys of what could be a Cross Vermont Trail route. And several of the people doing that initial survey, sitting through those first planning meetings - they were there watching the bridge fly in, seeing it all become real.

You did it!

The biggest story here is that a truly grassroots citizen group is pulling off a major infrastructure improvement. The support of VTrans made this project possible, but to make that possibility real we had to do the labor, to "cross all the t's and dot all the i's", not the least of which was the 20% of the cost needed from local donors. We succeeded because hundreds of local individuals, businesses and municipalities all joined in to make construction of this bridge happen. Thank you to all!

The bridge is the keystone piece of a larger vision.

We're connecting the Cross Vermont Trail from the Montpelier Bike Path, up to U-32 and across East Montpelier to the trailhead at Route 14. We're getting off of Route 2, and away from the worst on-road section of our statewide route.

The trail to the bridge is being built now. Some of it makes a good volunteer project. The next volunteer day is tomorrow, Saturday 7/31, meeting 9 AM at the Powerplant Road (the old railbed), at Gallison Hill Rd, across the street from the Central Vermont Civic Center. We'll be working 9 - 5, but you can drop in anytime.

More details below (always) - but first, let's savor the bridge launch a little more.

The big day, how did they actually do that?

First, a barge is floated into the center of the river, to help ferry the bridge across.

The bridge arrives in four pieces, together with an additional truck load of bolts.
"Some assembly required" - partially bolted on ground, so now just two large halves.
The first half is lifted over the river, with the nose end balancing on the barge.
Then the second half is lined up with the first, and both are furiously bolted together while still hanging from a crane. Now the bridge is its full 205 foot length, but still mostly suspended above the old railbed, with only the nose end projecting over the river, resting on the barge.
A trusty, if weathered, old John Deere skidder is called into action one more time to winch the barge toward the far bank. Meanwhile the back end of the bridge is being held in the air by a crane, the crane creeping forward to keep up as the barge is slowly tugged ahead. Onlookers cheer the progress, inch by inch.
When the barge is most of the way across, it gets close enough for a second crane on the far bank to reach out and pluck the end of the bridge into the air. Now the entire 205 foot structure is flying, suspended.
The two cranes work in tandem to line the bridge up with the abutments, and set it down precisely on the "keeper plates".
And it's a bridge!
 
We were lucky to have two professional photographers on hand to help witness.
 * Check out John Lazenby's full photo portfolio at his blog. Real art!
 * And Jay Ericson's swooping drone filming the cranes in action. Truly amazing!
In the News. Several news outlets followed the bridge install saga, check out these stories, including more video (especially a time lapse speedy video) from VT Digger, Local 22/44 TV News, and naturally the Montpelier Bridge.
 
Greg
Cross Vermont Trail Association

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