The Warren covered bridge will be raised up and the western abutment moved six feet further to the west, thanks to a Vermont Transportation Enhancement Grant.
The western abutment was scoured and damaged during Tropical Storm Irene and during the flood of 1998. The new alignment will allow more water to flow through that pinch point during flood events.
The grant is $300,000, which is 80 percent of the cost of the project. The remaining 20 percent, or $75,000, will come from town funds.
“A couple weeks after the grant application was submitted, Irene floodwaters overwhelmed the very abutment that is intended to be replaced, almost washing it away. Completion of this grant-assisted project will sustain for Warren one of its historic treasures, the Warren covered bridge, in a condition far better able to withstand the ravages of future flood events and the incessant deterioration of wood rot and decay,” explained Warren Department of Public Works spokesperson Barry Simpson.
The Warren project entails the design, permitting and reconstruction of the crumbling western abutment by raising the bridge and constructing a new abutment located about six feet further west, thereby substantially increasing the floodway.
The new western abutment will also incorporate a ramp leading down to the riverbed that will afford access to the river for construction vehicles as the need arises for future work on the bridge itself or on nearby retaining walls or the timber crib dam just downstream. The ramp will also give access by foot to the river as a recreational amenity for swimming, fishing and picnicking pursuits.
When the construction of the new abutment and associated ramp is complete, the bridge will be set back down in a level position on its new footings, and the roadway leading to both openings will be revised to meet the new conditions. There is an allowance in the proposal to replace the cedar shingle roof and provide new wooden guardrails at both approaches.
“With the proposed river access ramp the town will be better able to participate in any future river-related construction project in its vicinity and will otherwise allow convenient foot access to the river level,” Simpson added.
The Transportation Enhancements Program is administered by the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s Policy Planning and Intermodal Development Division for projects that are outside of the normal scope of transportation planning and implementation.