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Selectmen discuss Redington Street Bridge--again

November 12, 2009
LITTLETON—At last week's meeting of the Littleton Board of Selectmen, discussion centered, once again, on the Redington Street Bridge and the possibility of it taking a back seat to the Highland Ave, culvert.

During the citizens' concerns portion of the meeting, State Representatives Rusty Bulis and Brien Ward voiced their concerns over the fate of the Redington Street project.

The pair asked the board if there was anything that they could do at the state level, to try to move the project forward.

"Our concern," Ward told the board, "is that the Redington Street bridge project is ready to go. We do not want to postpone this now, as the money is there right now."

Littleton Town Manager Chuck Connell agreed with the pair, adding that, "All we need now, is the word to go ahead."

In a recent meeting of the board, resident Carl Hilgenburg, an engineer, suggested that the culvert on Highland Ave. could be repaired by the town for around $20,000 versus the $500,000 price tag that the state Dept. of Transportation had suggested.

The idea of moving the Highland Ave. project ahead of the Redington Street project came about at the same time, when Grafton County Councilor Ray Burton had approached the state DOT about the possibility of moving up the timetable on the needed repairs to the Highland Avenue culvert from the planned date of 2012 to "something more timely."

According to Connell, the DOT officials answered in the affirmative, but doing so would involve moving back the timetable on the Redington Street bridge project one year.

Bulis and Ward urged the board to take a solid position on the issue, in order to eliminate any potential delays caused by the question.

Connell explained that the major part of the delay is because of the significance of the Redington Street Bridge itself.

"The Redington Street Bridge is growing in importance with state officials because of its age, and its rarity," he explained.

The 124-foot Redington Street Bridge, constructed in 1928, is an example of a High Pratt Truss metal structure, one of just three remaining in the state. Formerly the most common of highway bridges, there are now fewer metal truss bridges in the state than covered bridges, according to DOT. The bridge has been unofficially determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, yet plans of its final disposition remain up in the air.

"As far as saving that bridge goes," Select board chair Eddie Moore said, "We have no interest in saving that bridge."

Rehabilitating the bridge has been estimated to cost $1 million more than replacement, according to Chris Baker of the design and engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. who presented an engineering study to the Board last fall.

"That bridge is a key piece of infrastructure in this community, and a key in the economics of the town," Ward said. "We should be taking advantage of the fact that the construction companies are hungry for work right now, and I am concerned that the costs of doing the project now, versus the cost of doing the project even a year from now, could be disastrous. We're running out of time."

"I guess the item of paramount importance with regards to the Redington Street Bridge," Bulis added, "Is that its repair or replacement would complete the river crossings in Littleton."

In the end, the board voted to go ahead with the Redington Street bridge project, and continue studying the possible solutions to the Highland Ave. culvert.

"We are working Mr. Hilgenburg's scenario," Connell said, "We're looking to see what the numbers would work out to, at this point."

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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