Vermont Agency of Transportation today announced the re-opening of two bridges along Route 103 in Chester. In order to rehabilitate two structurally deficient bridges in a rapid reconstruction process, bridge # 9 (near Benny’s Sunoco) bridge #8 were temporary closed traffic. On Sunday, July 10, both bridges were once again opened traffic - a full seven days ahead of schedule.
‘We applaud the work of the contractor, Cold River Bridges, to expedite this project,’ noted VTrans Secretary, Brian Searles. ‘And we appreciate the patience and endurance of the community’residents and businesses -- throughout the process. Vermont’s economic growth depends upon a strong infrastructure and we are committed to fixing our aging bridges and roads, ‘ he said.
The early bridge openings were enabled by both the diligence of the contractors and the innovative procedures pursued for the project by VTrans. The team of Cold River Bridges worked 7 days/week from 5:00am until 10:00pm including the holidays from the May 16, 2011 closure.
This bridge project is one of VTrans’ Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC ) projects , a program which seeks to rapidly advance bridge improvement projects to the most critically needed structures throughout the state. The contract for the Chester project, which combined two bridges into one project, was accelerated, advancing from conceptual plans to construction in just 2 ½ years ‘ a process that takes nine years, on average. Prefabricated elements were also used whenever possible to reduce the on-site construction time and cost. The contract included financial incentives for minimizing the closure period.
The project also included an extensive public engagement process which resulted in some mitigation measures that lessened the impact of the closure to area residents, businesses and visitors.
Cynthia Prairie, Board President of the Chester Famers Market was spurred to action when news of the project hit the community a year ago. Fearing that the bridge closures would result in closing the farmer’s market, she and her husband formed Chester United, and received a grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enhance local marketing and outreach during the closure period. Through collaboration, the Farmers Market was hosted on the property of the Vermont Country Store, a location where it could remain vibrant during the closure.
According to Cynthia, ‘This project actually helped to bring our community together. We made connections between and among area businesses. People we very responsive and the adversity of the project actually helped unite our community in a positive way.’