Inside the renovated Waitsfield Covered Bridge. Photo: Jeff Knight

Waitsfield’s covered bridge and Bridge Street reopened on November 12 after a closure of almost six months.

The bridge repair project included a new pedestrian walkway. Other parts of the project included stormwater infrastructure, repaving the road, installing sidewalks and streetlights and rebuilding the abutments of the covered bridge.

The project was to have included $7,500 for contractor Alpine Construction to put cedar shake shingles on the new pedestrian walkway, but the town opted not to do that and instead to apply for a grant to reroof the entire bridge with a standing seam metal roof next spring. To protect the pedestrian walkway, the town has contracted with Randall Hoyt for $5,000 to repair current holes in the roof of the bridge and to shingle the pedestrian walkway to protect it until spring.

Click Image for More Photos

Sheri DeFlavio Open Bridge

The select board, at its November 16 meeting, approved the contract for Hoyt and discussed final items that need to be taken care of with the bridge.

Of concern to the board are two gaps, one vertical and the other horizontal. There is a vertical gap of some 14 inches wide between the pedestrian walkway and the covered bridge. Before the new pedestrian walkway was installed, the pedestrian walkway was cantilevered out from the bridge and there was no gap.

The gap is wide enough that the board is concerned about fixing it. Former select board member Charlie Hosford provided what may be a possible temporary fix by installing boards that block that gap. That work, as well as the change in roofing materials, will have to be considered and approved by the Waitsfield Development Review Board as well as the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and/or the VTrans Historic Covered Bridge Committee.

Those boards will also have to approve any fix of the horizontal gap, a foot-wide gap between the sidewalls of the bridge and the decking inside the bridge running from one end to the other.

The select board asked town administrator Valerie Capels to have the town’s road department assess both gaps, which she did. She reported that road foreman Rodney Jones assessed the situation and found that it is beyond what the road crew can do and further that there are space issues that will constrain someone trying to fix the horizontal gaps. Jones, she said, felt that the town needed to get someone to review the situation from a safety point of view.