Selectboard approves fix for Holmes Creek Covered Bridge

The selectboard heard about important repairs that are required for the Holmes Creek Covered Bridge near the Town Beach at its Feb. 26 meeting.

Town administrator Nate Bareham reported that on Feb. 15 the town had received a notice from the Vermont Department of Transportation that an inspection revealed the bridge had “structural deficiencies.”

The agency proposed two options for the town. One was to place signs saying the weight capacity for the covered bridge has been reduced from 10,000 pounds down to 6000 pounds. The other option was to keep the current weight limit by having several blocks installed that will improve the structural integrity of the bridge.

Bareham shared some photos and a design demonstrating where the Department of Transportation would like blocks to be installed.

The town had 30 days to get back into compliance, which is Friday, March 15.

Bareham said the town has engaged Miles Jennes of VT Heavy Timber of Huntington to handle the work for $6,450. At this Monday’s (March 4) meeting, Jennes reported the work would be finished by the state’s deadline.

The Department of Transportation was initially inspecting the Holmes Creek Bridge because it is considering options for ways it could help the town do a more extensive renovation of the bridge. Those options might be such things as finding funding or possibly for the department to do the work itself, Bareham said.

At this Monday’s meeting, Jennes said he thought they would be able to complete the required fixes to the bridge in a day. He said the work his company would do would not only fulfill the Department of Transportation’s requirements, they would be “above and beyond.”

In a joking exchange with board member Lewis Mudge, Jennes said he could actually finish before March 15, since that is the Ides of March, a date that was unlucky for at least one leader.

It was a coincidence that he got the call from Charlotte while he was in the process of compiling a report on three town bridges, Jennes sad. Of the three, the Holmes Creek Bridge is the most critically in need of work.

Frank Tenney said the Dorset Street Bridge is also on the Department of Transportation’s list of bridges that it is researching for ways to help the town get repaired, more extensively than just the patch selectboard approved in May last year.

The town posted the vacancy on the selectboard caused by the passing of Louise McCarren within 10 days, as it was required to do by state statute. On this Monday, selectboard members agreed that the statute was unclear about how soon someone needed to be appointed to fill a vacant position.

Chair Jim Faulkner said, if they appointed someone on Monday night, it would have been for a term of around 22-23 hours until the results of Town Meeting Day voting are tallied. Nicole Kanner was the only candidate for the seat McCarren had held.

“To me there wasn’t enough time between posting, getting applicants and choosing in order to get things done before the election,” Tenney said. “I agree with Jim. I don’t think it would be prudent to appoint somebody to a term that’s going to be ending.”

And, as board member Kelly Devine pointed out, whoever might have been appointed wouldn’t even have been sworn in before the election.