For the second time this summer a steel truss bridge in Vermont
has closed because of weak support beams.
We look into why state inspectors closed both the Richmond
and Middlesex bridges, and how many other bridges in Vermont
might also be in danger. (Listen)
Also, on Vermont’s
Primary Election Day, we talk about how overseas voters can make sure their
votes are counted. Secretary of State
Deb Markowitz walks us through the process of registering and sending in a
And we visit the Newfane Historical Society’s exhibit on women’s clothes
from the Civil War to the early Twentieth Century. From cage crinolines
to bustles, we explore the changing shape of women’s fashion.
Emails from listeners–
Email from Lisa in Richmond-
My sister and I own Chubby Robin gift shop on the opposite side of Ben’s
bakery in Richmond VT. There’s also VT Greengrocer, Film Buzz video
store, Isaac’s Antique store, and Unleashed pet store. We are all down
60% on our sales since the Richmond bridge closed. We’ve all been
hobbling along with only one lane opened, but this closed bridge could be
our swan song.
Thank you, Bob Marquis, for calling with the hard facts. Like Bob, we are
all wondering why a few votes put the bridge into a historic preservation,
rather than the votes of all town citizens!
A great concern, too, is that the Round Church side no longer has
immediate response to fire engines, ambulance, and other emergency
equipment and drivers.
As taxpaying citizens and business owners, we hope this unsafe bridge will
be swiftly rectified, not with a "band-aid" effort, but with a permanent
solution for all residents and visitors.
Email from Roger in Bristol-
At the top of your program, it was mentioned that a large number of
Vermont’s bridges were built just after the 1927 floods. The Vermont
economy was much smaller then than it is now. Why can’t we afford to build/repair bridges at the same or greater rate now compared to then?
Email from Kenneth in Montpelier-
I think it would make sense to replace faulty bridges with "temporary" one lane bridges on a permanent basis. They go up quickly and I assume are significantly cheaper than permanent cement or steel versions.
Email from Jeff in Richmond-
I live in Richmond and the closing of this bridge will have a huge impact
on the town. It is much more than just an inconvenience. Our local
businesses are suffering from reduced traffic on our prime commercial
street. School buses have to detour, extending ride times by as much as a
half hour for kids and costing the district as much as $300 more per day
on fuel costs. And it greatly diminishes our fire and rescue departments
ability to respond to emergencies.
The fact that these bridges are failing should not be a surprise. They
are now 80 years old with a design life of what 70 – 75 years? The
administration has been asleep at the wheel on this ticking time bomb of a
problem. Maintaining existing roads and bridges should be a primary
responsibility of State government and I feel Gov. Douglas has really let
Why not add 5 cents per gallon or more to our gas tax to put towards a
bridge repair and replacement fund? Frankly we cannot wait to address
this problem any longer. If Gov. Douglas cannot do it, then maybe it is
time for a new governor.
Email from James-
Under Ella Grasso and Bill O’Neill, funding in
Connecticut for bridge inspection, repair and replacement were essentially
level funded in the 70’s – much the same as it has been under Governors Dean and Douglas here in
Vermont. That changed in 1983 when the bridge over the
River collapsed, killing 3 people.
Connecticut undertook a 5.5 billion dollar funding plan to update their infrastructure
soon afterwards. While bridge closures have been inconvenient for the folks in
Richmond and Middlesex, let’s hope it doesn’t take a similar event to arouse
public support and allocate the funding necessary to get serious about the problem.
Email from Bob Marquis in Richmond-
I am a citizen of Richmond, two term selctboard member – past Chair and
currently Vice Chair, and was a member of the Bridge Committee that was formed
over two years ago to come up with some answers as to what we would do to solve
our bridge issues.
in town are frustrated – we have a bridge that for all intents and
purposes has failed – period! We are the supposed owners of this bridge
but we do not control it’s destiny. A number of years ago the State AOT,
the Federal Highway Administration and the Historic Preservation people got
together and deemed this bridge a historic structure – without input from the Town of Richmond. The only real option we have (dictated
to us) is a complete rehab of this structure – which the feds and state
will pay 80 or 90% of the cost – when they decide to give up the money –
until then we are supposed to keep fixing the structure. We have tried to get a
time frame that is reasonable for monies and we are stonewalled with timeframes
of 7 to 15 years – maybe. We have discussed bonding for the project
ourselves and taking down the structure and putting up a new bridge [ a much
cheaper solution than rehab] – however, if we were to decide to try and
go this route we were told in so many words "good luck getting the
our Fire fighting and Rescue stations being on the north side of the river all
our residents on the south side are all in a detrimental situation should the need
arise for fire or rescue personnel to respond.
cost to properly fix this bridge and to keep it open pending a long term fix [complete
rehab or new bridge] could easily hit the 5 to 10 million dollar range – not
even counting the cost to the community in time, wasted gas and safety issues.
is a great, vibrant community that is being held hostage by entities that do
not feel the pain we are being dealt. No community should be forced to deal
with a situation such as this.
Email from Michael in South Burlington-
As long as Vermonters keep rejecting raising taxes
so vocally, nothing and I repeart nothing will be done to fix this
problem. Like the old saying says you pay for what you get.
Vermonters over the last couple of years showed with an energy bill, education
funding, and most any other tax that has come before the legislature, including
closing the investment loophole last session that Vermonters just don’t have it
in them to pay for improvements.
AP Photo/Toby Talbot