Emergency Fix on Hartford’s Route 4 Rail Bridge Begins Today
Hartford — State and local authorities in Vermont have announced an emergency project to replace the Route 4 railroad bridge, which was damaged in June by a passing truck.
The town of Hartford, VTrans, the Vermont Rail System and their contractors are scheduled to begin construction on the Maple Street bridge at noon today and finish on Monday.
Hartford police Maj. Brad Vail said the bridge was damaged on June 15 when the boom of a LaValley’s Building Supply delivery truck struck the bridge overhead and moved it approximately 8 inches.
The superstructure was beyond repair, making replacement the only option, authorities said in a news release Thursday.
“The state really doesn’t want trains going across it because it’s not up to code in safety,” said Joshua Hulett, an engineer at VTrans.
Hulett said the railroad company had shored up the bridge so trains could pass in the short term, but the crossing was now in “dire need” of replacement.
Flaggers will be present around the clock this weekend, according to the release, which said traffic may briefly stop at night, when builders plan to install new steel girders.
Those interruptions will last no longer than 15 minutes, though traffic stops during the daytime may last up to 10 minutes. Rail traffic will be suspended for the weekend, according to Hulett.
The news release advised motorists to consider taking alternate routes in the meantime.
The release also called the project an “emergency contract,” not an “improvement contract,” meaning that the work is primarily intended to restore the bridge to a safe condition.
“This is an emergency fix but is intended to be a permanent fix,” said VTrans Rail Director Daniel Delabruere.
All told, Delabruere estimated the project would cost $400,000 in state funds, though he said the number was still being finalized.
Hulett said the truck driver had not realized he or she had hit the bridge until returning to the shop and noticed that there was damage to the vehicle. At that point, the driver came back to the railway and saw that the first girder, looking at New Hampshire from Vermont, had suffered significant damage.
“If you’re traveling through that area and your truck’s higher than the posted height for (the bridge), try not to go under it,” Hulett said. “Get to know the height for your vehicle.”
Hulett said he did not know whether LaValley’s Building Supply would be required to help pay for the cost of the repairs.
Rob Wolfe can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3242.