Lincoln Covered Bridge West Woodstock, Vermont
Photo by Katy Savage
Repairs to Woodstock’s historic Lincoln Covered Bridge are nearly complete
By Virginia Dean
Work to repair the Lincoln Covered
Bridge in West Woodstock is coming along as expected, according to Joseph Poston, senior
project manager of Wright Construction of Manchester, New Hampshire.
“We're making good progress and anticipate an early winter
opening,” said Poston. "We’ve removed most of the siding and three-quarters of the timber
repairs have been completed."
The bridge was damaged last May when a pick-up truck with a
long trailer carrying a backhoe tried crossing the wooden structure and ripped out parts
of the wood at both entrances including ten collar ties that held the bridge together.
The bridge has been closed to traffic ever since.
Poston said that the siding still needs to be put back on,
and the runner planks on either end have to be replaced.
"They’ve worn out over the last 30 years," said Poston.
Last spring, Woodstock police said the backhoe was above the
10-foot height limit when it entered the bridge. The driver, Gavin Ratliff, 23, of Sharon
left work and tried crossing the bridge to Route 4 to head home. After he went through, he
pulled over and called 911.
At the time, Woodstock Town Manager Phil Swanson said Ratliff
would be issued a ticket, points on his driving record and/or fines for the accident. He
was also held responsible for the damages.
Poston confirmed the original estimate of nearly $300,000 to
fix 10 croft beams, 15 knee braces, 19 verticals and new siding at both entrances.
“We've had to strip the sidings off the bridge in order to
disassemble and reassemble the parts," Poston said. "The roof will remain intact and be
jacked up in the air about a foot and shored off the road deck. Then, when we repair the
verticals, we’ll lower the bridge back down.”
Extra work will include new skylights on the roof that will
replace the present panels that were leaking, Poston added.
All costs are being covered by town and driver insurances.
Poston estimated that the work on the bridge will be completed
by mid-December. Wright Construction is contracted with the town of Woodstock under the
supervision of Highway Superintendent Ken Vandenburg and interim Town Manager Frank Heald.
"There are a number of things that have been fixed but we're on
schedule for mid to late December," said Heald.
According to Heald, the town has been responsible for the
general oversight of the project.
“We’ve periodically visited the site,” said Heald. "And, we
have made and continue to make decisions about the bridge in a collaborative manner. But,
generally speaking, we've got a quality contractor there with a quality highway superintendent
and anticipate an excellent job at completion."
Until work is finished, residential and non-residential drivers
have been able to access the other side of the Ottauquechee River by using the Mill Road Bridge.
Other alternatives have included Carlton Hill and Riverside Park Roads to cross the river in
order to access Fletcher Hill Road, according to police.
The Lincoln Covered Bridge was built in 1877 by R.W. Pinney of
Bridgewater and B.H. Pinney of Woodstock. The 136-foot long single span Pratt Truss, that spans the
Ottauquechee River, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 26, 1973.
It is the only known wooden example of a structural system that
later became widespread for steel highway and railroad bridges.
Copyright © 2019 The Mountain Times 10/23/2019