The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) has plans to place a bridge over the Centerville Brook on Route 15 in Hyde Park, seen above. A 15 foot culvert currently passes underneath the state highway at the site but the culvert is over 50 years old and has deteriorated extensively. According to a recent VTrans traffic study that portion of Route 15 sees approximately 9,100 vehicles a day, all of which could potentially have to be rerouted depending on the construction process the agency chooses to use. Construction of the bridge could begin as soon as next summer. Martin photo
HYDE PARK – Motorists in Lamoille County could have more traffic issues to deal with next summer. The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is moving forward with plans to construct a bridge on Route 15 over Centerville Brook in Hyde Park near Trinity Assembly of God Church. Representatives from VTrans attended the Hyde Park Selectboard meeting on Thursday, September 13, for a Local Concerns meeting regarding the project.
According to representatives from VTrans the culvert that is currently sited where Centerville Brook passes under Route 15, near the Trinity Assembly of God church, has deteriorated to the point where something has to be done soon, before it completely fails. The 15 foot steel culvert was originally installed in 1959 and has reached the end of its useful life. Along with the deterioration of the culvert, Centerville Brook now actually runs beneath the bottom of the culvert, rather than through the pipe, a fact that makes a new solution even more necessary.
“The culvert is in very bad shape,” explained VTrans Structures Project Manager Dan Landry, “A partial closure was necessary on two occasions in the past to repair the damage caused by the problems with the culvert.” One such problem was the sinkhole that appeared on Route 15 in the spring of 2011.
AT this time VTrans has no definite plans regarding the replacement of the culvert, but it seems likely that the option that will be chosen is to clean out the 35 feet of fill that lies between Route 15 and the current culvert and to build a steel or concrete girder bridge over the span. Such a bridge would be approximately 128 feet long and 41 feet wide. VTrans has also considered placing a precast concrete box culvert at the site but considers the bridge a better and more cost effective solution that can be completed in a shorter amount of time. Both the bridge and box culvert will allow for a 33 foot river channel, a width the Agency of Natural Resources feels will allow for optimum stream flow and life. The current streambed is only 15 feet wide.
While VTrans is only in the planning stages of the construction project for the bridge, they have already begun examining different plans. The option that seems to be favored by the department at this point is an accelerated construction plan that would require Route 15 to be shut down completely at the site. Pre-built sections of the bridge would be brought in and installed at a rapid pace, with VTrans estimating that the entire job could be completed in 2.5 months. However, this plan would require that local traffic be detoured onto East Main Street and then to Centerville Road, which would lead motorists back onto Route 15. Truck traffic would be detoured onto other state roads via routes that VTrans has not yet determined.
“Our goal is to have as minimal disruption to the public as possible,” explained Landry, “With rapid bridge construction, the time that the public is inconvenienced can be reduced from two construction seasons to several months.”
Other options for construction are also being considered by the agency. One such option would be to work on the bridge in phases, meaning that a single lane of traffic would be maintained while one half of the bridge was built. This form of construction would likely take two construction seasons and cause some delays but would have the benefit of keeping traffic moving without the use of detours. A third option under consideration is a temporary widening of Route 15 in order to allow two lanes of traffic to drive around the bridge site before continuing down Route 15. Along with taking more time, both phased construction and the widening of the road are expected to cost more than the accelerated construction option. While no costs have been determined for the project, 80 percent will be covered by the federal government while the state will cover 20 percent.
At this point in the planning VTrans has completed nearly all the preliminary work for the bridge project. The scoping phase of the project should take place this fall, and the design of the bridge and all necessary permitting work will likely run from this fall into the spring of 2013. The actual construction work for the project is tentatively scheduled for the summer and fall of 2013.
While the Hyde Park Selectboard has taken no official stance on the project, they are concerned about the possibility of detoured traffic using town roads. According to a recent traffic study performed by VTrans the site of the culvert on Route 15 sees roughly 9,100 cars a day. The board is concerned that the increase of traffic by such large numbers could negatively affect town roads while also requiring expanded police coverage. In order to help negate this problem the board has asked that if town roads are used as a detour that the state provide extra funds to help cover the cost of increased patrol.
Other concerns raised at the September 13 meeting included the impact of the project on traffic near Hyde Park Elementary. Representatives from VTrans expressed the agency’s willingness to plan construction work in the summer when school was out as a possible solution to that concern. Another concern raised was whether or not emergency vehicles could use the town roads planned as the detour if Route 15 was closed. Members of the Hyde Park Fire Department present at the meeting explained that while their trucks can use the roads they usually do not.