PLAINFIELD — The Select Board has approved a request for proposals for the design of the replacement of a troubled bridge in town.
Milone & MacBroom, engineering consultants from Waterbury, inspected bridges on Mill Street and Brook Road and determined they weren’t wide enough to handle major rainstorms, suggesting the town would need to widen the underpasses of the bridges to allow water and debris to flow through smoothly in the event of a flood.
The Brook Road bridge suffered serious storm damage twice in less than five years — most recently in the summer of 2015 — and is considered the higher priority of the two.
As part of its analysis, the town teamed up with the University of Vermont, which used drones to get a bird’s-eye view of the Great Brook. The photos taken before and after a major storm showed the movement of logs and debris down the Great Brook and where they got stuck.
At its regular meeting Monday night, the board heard from Road Commissioner Bram Towbin. Towbin and the board discussed approving the request for proposals and created a committee to look over the bids that will be submitted to the board.
Board Chairman Ross Sneyd said the town has received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the design. Sneyd said the budget for the design is $92,617 and the grant has a 25 percent match from the town that is worked into the budget residents will vote on at Town Meeting Day next month.
Once the town has the design in-hand, it can then seek funding for the replacement of the bridge. The town doesn’t have a timeline for when it wants the bridge replaced because it depends on the availability of funds.
Board member Tammy Farnham expressed concern about spending taxpayer money for the design of a project that the town doesn’t have funding for. Early estimates of the bridge replacement are between $1.1 million and $1.3 million.
Towbin said the state is focusing on cleaning up Lake Champlain, so projects like Plainfield’s bridge replacement have been “put on the back burner.”
“This isn’t a project that reduces sediment, so that’s another challenge,” he said.
Towbin said national emergencies due to increased weather events have also strained the town’s ability to get federal funding. But he said the town has to have the design completed in order to apply for funding.
The board then approved the request for proposals and the creation of the bid committee.