September 11, 2013LINCOLN — The Bunker Lane dike and Loon Bridge replacement are two big-ticket items in town. Town Manager Butch Burbank provided an update on both issues last week.
The dike has been under study for several months. Burbank said the town's engineer, DuBois and King, has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) on ways to address ongoing problems at the dike.
When Burbank spoke last week, ACE was about to receive updated information on the dike project. This includes reconstruction plans and the cost of repair, which Burbank said would likely top $1 million.
After the new information goes to the federal government, Burbank said, "We'll wait for feedback from the Corps." He added that the new information submitted last week should provide all of the facts ACE needs to make final decisions about the dike proposal.
The dike has faced tough times. Over the years, brush piles damaged grass, a natural protector, on the dike. Also, a culvert in the dike itself causes flooding when water levels are high in the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River.
Of course, Tropical Storm Irene was an obvious problem.
Certain condominiums along Bunker Lane, some built into the dike in the 1980s, have suffered water damage through the years. Inspections of accessible portions of condo foundations are planned, DuBois and King informed ACE in July.
The problems at the dike do not include imminent risk of major failure. As Dubois and King noted in July, the dike "has been subjected to maximum design flood conditions with no signs of instability of the land side slope or structural distress of the condo foundation walls."
In its July letter to ACE, DuBois and King wrote that the town finalized six easements that cover temporary construction rights, permanent maintenance rights, and recreation along the dike. Regarding those documents, Burbank noted, "It is my understanding that we have addressed all of the easement issues." He said ACE may have additional comments on any other needed easements.
The six easements sent to ACE cover nearly 3.5 acres.
Burbank said the selectmen will wait on their next steps until after hearing from ACE. Federal engineers have said they would conduct a field inspection after ACE approves town plans for the dike.
The main question for town officials, Burbank said, was whether to wait until March's town meeting, or move sooner. That question will be answered based on how long ACE approval takes. "We might petition for an earlier town meeting," Burbank said, if federal authorities provide approval quickly.
In summarizing the project, Burbank said the town is "trying to correct what was an unfortunate degradation" of the dike. "We want to move forward," he concluded, to provide the best option for voters.
Another big project remains on Lincoln's front burner. The replacement of the Loon Bridge, destroyed during Irene, will be an item discussed at the September 16 meeting of the selectmen. HEB Engineers, based in Conway, will brief the town on the bridge's initial design.
A temporary bridge currently provides access to Loon Mountain Resort. The new bridge, which will be paid for largely with state and federal funds, will be built slightly downstream from the temporary span. Even with the financial assistance, Lincoln taxpayers are likely on the hook for about $500,000 to build the new bridge. The total replacement stands at about $8.7 million.
As of now, construction of the new bridge should begin next spring. The build process could take as long as 18 months. The replacement bridge will remain operational during that time.