Work begins on temporary fix for Otter Creek bridges

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(Host) In Rutland City – there are only two bridges over the Otter Creek and both are in bad shape.

The bridge at Dorr Drive has been on the state’s replacement list since 1994.

While local officials wait for state help with that project, they’re beginning work on a temporary fix for the other bridge this week, and VPR’s Nina Keck has more on that.

(Keck) The Ripley Road bridge, near the college of St. Joeseph’s and Rutland’s business route four was closed for more than two months last year while welders made repairs. But state transportation officials say those repairs weren’t enough to make the nearly 80 year old bridge safe. Alan Shelvey is Rutland’s City Engineer.

(Shelvey) “Last year, just to temporarily put it back together, it was about $120,000 in welding and we probably have two or three times that left to go. And in a bridge that has outlived its useful life it’s just not worth it to put that much money into it.”

(Keck) So, Shelvey says the city will rent a steel support structure from the state that will fit over the existing bridge and make it safe and usable.

The rental fee will be about $6,000 a year – quite a bit less, Shelvey says, than repair costs.

The only downside, he says, is that the already narrow bridge will shrink to a single lane that will be controlled by a stop light. But having the bridge passable he says will allow local residents to avoid a 17-mile detour when the nearby Dorr Drive Bridge is finally replaced.

Shelvey says that’s a $5 million project that’s scheduled for 2011. Once that’s done, he says they can work on replacing the Ripley Bridge.

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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