Swimming season will be winding to a close by the time the gap in the Waitsfield covered bridge is repaired.
The gap that was left between the pedestrian walkway and the travel lanes is one way that people have been able to climb under, around and on the covered bridge, including the roof, to jump into the river.
Select board member Sal Spinosa affirmed his strong intention of preventing jumping from the bridge when the board discussed completing the final items left from last year’s covered bridge and Bridge Street repair project.
“My concern is about safety of kids down there and then the town’s liability and damage to the bridge. I believe there can be no running or playing in, under and on the roof of the bridge and that includes diving. That’s a hard line in the sand for me. We have to do everything in our power to stop that. Stay off the roof, stay off the bridge,” Spinosa said at the board’s most recent meeting on July 11.
The covered bridge was closed all last summer and into fall while the pedestrian walkway was removed and replaced, the stormwater drainage system was updated and repaired, the bridge decking was repaired, the street was repaved, sidewalks were poured and engraved bricks were laid, and streetlights and benches were installed.
“We’ve done all we can possibly do. If parents don’t care if kids get hurt, then we shouldn’t,” board chair Paul Hartshorn said.
In addition to closing the gap that allows people to access the inside and top of the bridge, the town needs to replace the roof and complete railings on the abutments. A private Bridge Street Beautification effort led by AnneMarie DeFreest and Barbra Gulisano has raised funds to install benches, streetlights and engraved bricks to accent the abutment areas and extend the look that was achieved with the sidewalks on Bridge Street.
The streetlights have been installed and Gulisano asked the board how they liked them.
Board member Anne Bordonaro said she hadn’t noticed them and no one had complained about them, so they must not be too bright.
“That isn’t Vermont,” Hartshorn said.
The town had to apply for and receive a local and VTrans permit for the railing, lights and brick on the abutment areas. The town received a local permit for wooden rails on the abutments, but VTrans nixed that in favor of metal railings. The Waitsfield Development Review Board will review the final plans for the metal railings at its August 9 meeting.
Bids have gone out for the roof of the bridge to be replaced, seeking bids on a standing seam or corrugated metal roof and with the existing cedar shake shingles removed or left on.
Gulisano said that Iron Horse Roofing would not guarantee its work without having the shingles removed and would charge $30,000 to build scaffolding to remove them.
“Why not, rather than have them remove the shingles for that much money, put a truck in the bridge and throw the shingles through a hole in the roof?” Gulisano suggested.
“We don’t have to take them off,” Hartshorn said. “We can put strapping on for the metal to attach to.”
Bids for repairing the gap went out this week and there will be a pre-bid meeting next week on July 27 at 9 a.m. at the bridge. The board will review the bids at its August 8 meeting.