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The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is considering how to fix or replace the bridge on Route 100 immediately south of the Lareau Farm Inn in Waitsfield.
Its current recommendation is to close Route 100 immediately before and after the bridge for approximately three weeks and reroute drivers via Route 17, German Flats and the Sugarbush Access Road.
VTrans has completed a scoping report that assesses the bridge and various options. The scoping report and the local roads detour recommendation will be presented to the public on December 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Valley Players Theater in Waitsfield. VTrans will consider suggestions for changes and recommendations at that meeting.
The scoping report includes three options. First, a temporary bridge built either upstream or downstream of the current bridge is considered, although the report notes that upstream is preferably because of the steep rocky nature of the terrain downstream of the bridge. An upstream temporary bridge would have a “slight impact” on a Class III wetland. Both up and downstream bridges would require acquiring temporary rights from adjacent property owners (town of Waitsfield and Lareau Farm/American Flatbread).
This option would maintain two-way traffic on Route 100 but would also require right-of-way acquisition which would lengthen the project development phase by a minimum of two years, according to the report.
The second option is phased construction, building one lane of the bridge at a time. That would mean one-way traffic for the duration of the construction of both lanes.
“Due to horizontal constraints of the existing bridge, phased construction would be complicated for this site, without shifting the alignment of the proposed bridge, widening the bridge, or using a temporary bridge for one of the phases. Additionally, phased construction would result in a longer, more expensive, lower quality and less safe construction project. Based on the traffic volumes, it could be considered acceptable to close one lane of traffic, but it would not be ideal due to delays and traffic congestion. This option would also create safety concerns for workers and the travelling public during construction,” the report notes.
A third option includes closing the bridge and rerouting Route 100 traffic to Routes 17, 116 and 125, a regional detour that is 67 miles long and would take drivers over the Appalachian Gap, south on Route 116 to East Middlebury and back over the Middlebury Gap to Hancock on Route 125. That is only if the detour uses state roads versus local roads.
Such a detour would be unacceptable for trucks, the report notes before discussing local detours, i.e., Route 17 to German Flats to the Sugarbush Access Road, a 10.5-mile detour that is acceptable for trucks. Using local roads would require that the towns of Warren and Fayston sign a local bypass agreement.
This third option would eliminate the need for a temporary bridge which would decrease costs and duration of construction. It would also eliminate the need to purchase rights of way. It would require drivers with businesses close to either end of the bridge to drive all the way around German Flats to get to where they are going.
“Our conditional recommendation is to pursue alternative 2A; to build a new bridge with a three-week closure while maintaining traffic on an offsite detour, on locally owned roads. This alternative will be able to be developed in the shortest possible time with minimal impacts to adjacent property owners and environmental resources. Since the proposed detour route is on locally owned roads, this recommendation is conditional on receiving the approval from the towns of Warren and Fayston, who own the roads that traffic could be detoured onto. If the towns are not willing to give approval to use their roads as the detour route, our recommendation will be to pursue alternative 2B, to build a new bridge on existing alignment, while maintaining traffic on a temporary bridge,” the report concludes.
The report outlining the various alternatives may be seen at the office of the town clerk in Waitsfield or at the Structures Section of the Agency of Transportation’s office in Montpelier. It can be emailed or found at the town’s website, www.waitsfieldvt.us.