Town of Halifax, Vermont
July 13, 2015


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner and Doug Grob were present; Edee Edwards was present by speaker phone. Meghan Brunk, Chris Berg (both representing VTrans), Brad Rafus, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.

Changes and Additions to Agenda
In the first few minutes of the meeting, before VTrans officials arrived, Edee Edwards requested a discussion of some correspondence received by the Selectboard. A number of letters have been received from a property owner, primarily discussing issues related to the current zoning bylaw amendment and conditional use permitting procedures. These documents are addressed to the Selectboard, Planning Commission, Zoning Board, and Town Attorney. Edwards recalled an earlier occasion when a citizen had communicated directly with the Town Attorney, thereby incurring legal fees for the town. She also noted that the Selectboard is not a party to Planning Commission and Zoning Board business, and asked what, if any, action might be taken to redirect this type of communication to the correct municipal body. At this point VTrans representatives had joined the meeting; the Board agreed to table the matter until their discussion with VTrans concluded.

Discuss Engineering Grant
The town has been awarded grant monies to fund an engineering study of the Branch Road bridge at Hubbard Hill. Meghan Brunk and Chris Berg were present to advise the Board and the Road Commissioner on how to properly compose quote requests for the study. Brunk gave the Board samples of requests from other projects, and asked what the town wished to have included in the engineer’s report. Brad Rafus said he would want an evaluation of abutment, I-beam, and deck condition; a test for lead paint on the I-beams; a design for a guardrail system; a determination of the urgency of the project; and a cost estimate for necessary repairs. Clarifying his comment on urgency, Rafus said it would be good if the main work could be postponed until the town is eligible for a structures grant to help fund the project.

Edwards said the one thing that really needs to be done is the guardrails. VTrans has provided a design for a temporary guardrail repair, which we haven’t implemented yet. If we can do the temporary guardrails, paint the I-beams, and postpone the rest for five years, we would like to know that, she added. In the past, bids solicited by the town for guardrail replacement proved prohibitively high. Brunk said those details could be spelled out in the bid request. Rafus believes the I-beams have lead paint. The bridge was built about 1939, and he has found no evidence the town has repainted the beams since then. When the North County Road bridge was rebuilt it was less expensive to replace beams than to remove the lead paint. Berg said the engineering study would give the town necessary information about lead presence and cost to remove or replace.

VTrans can do a hydrology study, Brunk advised, and the engineering report should identify what permits are required, as some permits take longer than others to procure. Doug Grob asked whether the earlier high cost estimate for guardrail replacement was due to the condition of the present structure. Rafus confirmed; the guardrails are seriously deteriorated. Some of the original posts have nothing left but rebar. Edwards said temporary guardrails should be a top priority. Sumner described the awkward angle of the bridge; it is narrow now, and decreasing the width with jersey barriers to execute a temporary fix could impede traffic flow further, especially for trucks. Edwards thought a more narrow travel path might have a traffic-calming effect. Brunk will email electronic files of the sample proposals, and will review the town’s bid request for accuracy after it is composed.

In response to a question from Edwards, Brunk said she did not yet have specifics on the new law raising fees to fund the Lake Champlain clean-up, and did not know whether that law would have an impact on permitting fees for the Branch bridge project. Reading from a state communication on the subject, Sumner said a general authorization for stream alteration will cost $200, and an individual stream alteration permit will be $350. Will the state have to do the same thing, he asked. Yes, Brunk replied, we received a long list of what we can and cannot do, and what does and does not have to be reported. There is not a lot of information yet, they agreed. Brunk will do some research on the subject.

Do you know to whom you will send quote requests, asked Berg. Holden Engineering, answered Rafus, while Edwards mentioned SVE. Brunk recommended having VTrans’ structural engineer assess the bridge; his advice would guide the Board when making a bid award decision. Can we do that first?, asked Grob. We have a two year window on the grant, replied Rafus. Brunk will talk to the VTrans structural engineer about meeting with the Board.

Return to Correspondence Discussion
After further discussion the Board agreed to solicit the town attorney’s advice on the best method to guide the letter writer toward submitting written opinions to the appropriate municipal body and, further, to request clarification of requirements for distributing written materials pertaining to the current open public hearing.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:52 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary