Town of Halifax, VT

Minutes – Special Meeting

December 9, 2011

Call to Order

A special meeting of the Halifax Selectboard to conduct site visits was held at Hale Road at the Guilford line, the intersection of Deer Park and Green River Road, the Reed Hill road bridge near the post office, and the Town Office in Halifax.  This was a kickoff meeting to discuss hydrology studies and bridge engineering with SVE Associates, at bridges damaged during Tropical Storm Irene.  The meeting was started at 9:05 am. John LaFlamme, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards, Selectboard members, were present.  Others in attendance were Steve Tarbox and Peter Boemig from SVE, Warren Summers and Michael Egan from FEMA, Brad Rafus, Christina Moore, and Joe Tamburrino.  Present at the Hale Road portion were members of the public Winnie Olmer, Andy Rice, Jacob Rice, Larry Simons, Virginia Vogel, and Peter Vogel.  Janet Taylor was present for a portion of the Deer Park Bridge discussion.

New Business

Hale Road Bridge

At the Hale Road, a large metal arch (which gets classified as a bridge and is also called a short structure) under the road experienced flooding that undermined the concrete footings.  While there were at time multiple conversations going on during the site visit and surely some details missed, some of the points discussed are noted here.

SVE noted that the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) may require that a replacement structure be wider than the old structure. ANR’s requirements focus on the biology of the stream, not so much the hydrology.  For example, ANR may say that the new structure should be 1.2x the bank width.  SVE will make a trip to the site with an ANR representative.

Andy Rice noted that residents of the Thomas Hill and Hale Rd areas are traveling to Brattleboro via Barrow Road, which is not normally plowed by the town of Brattleboro.  The residents are questioning whether simply backfilling over the damaged arch would allow for small local vehicles to pass, if plowing could be done with the smallest Halifax town vehicle (the one ton truck).  Brad Rafus noted that when fully loaded with sand or gravel, the one ton weighs 10,000-12,000 lbs.

Residents noted that discussing temporary solutions was of interest to them.  SVE’s structural engineer, Steve Tarbox said that a cursory look at the condition of the culvert shows issues with the footing on both sides.  One side is undermined by about 1 foot of depth, for ½ of the length of the structure.  One the other side, it appears to have been both undermined and rotated.  In his opinion with this cursory look, there is little integrity with the culvert as it stands now.  He is leery to suggest backfilling it, which will compact it.  Something will compress or give as it settles.

Winnie Olmer noted that they had left a bridge open in Williamsville, and asked what is the consequence of settling in this case?  Steve with SVE noted that it would be trial and error.  Something might twist and come apart.  A temporary structure overlying this might be worth considering, for example perhaps of precast concrete, 15-20 feet, with a laminated wood deck.

Virginia Vogel noted that safety is also a problem with the detour route, as parts of it have few inhabitants and no cell coverage.  They are preparing their vehicles with flashlights and blankets, etc, in case they have a problem.

John LaFlamme noted that he had not yet made a call to John Alexander at the State’s Agency of Transportation (AOT), to see if any temporary structures might be available now, but it was recently stated that the state does keep an inventory of temporary bridges.  In the days immediately following the storm, we were told everything was being used.

Virginia Vogel offered that there was a bridge on their property, crossing this same brook, and offered to let the town use it.  It has 16’ I-beams (verify), and had previously been used by logging trucks.

At this point, Michael Egan of FEMA, a bridge specialist, arrived.  After he was briefed about the temporary structure conversation, he noted that reuse of a structure may not be feasible for long-term structural integrity, but it might work in some cases for a temporary structure.  FEMA does not make engineering assessments, however, they may be able to help the town pay for that engineering assessment.  The determination should be made by a Professional Engineer (PE).

Michael Egan said that the town needs to provide FEMA with some data and make a request to FEMA to consider a temporary structure.  For example, residents noted that it is now 15 miles instead of 10 to get to work, one business has employees with much longer commutes, and a B&B hasn’t been able to re-open.  If a need is established, then a design professional should come up with the best method to achieve a temporary structure, with notations about the reduced load.

Michael Egan noted that they have reused some existing facilities as part of a temporary structure.  You would need to justify purchase versus rental.  Reimbursement would be at 75%.  There are some additional considerations, such as deducting fair market value and salvage values.

Other possible options were noted.  Brad Rafus asked a question about alignment of the bridge.

It was noted that a hydrology study had not yet been done for the Wineburg bridge, but a temporary structure was put in place to the isolated home before winter.  Michael Egan said that the study was needed and it would be reimbursable, and suggested we ask SVE to do that as well.  He said if the temporary bridge needed to be raised due to the hydrology study, we might still be able to jack it up and reuse the main part of the structure, getting credit for that then in a permanent project worksheet.

Edee Edwards noted that Alec Portalupi with VTrans had said that if the contracted engineering firm and/or Michael Egan could provide an assessment of temporary bridge options and reduced loads with FEMA funding assistance, that would save sending another professional down, but the state could do that if it wasn’t possible.  Temporary structure assessment was not part of the original bid proposal that SVE responded to, however they could submit an estimate and the town could do a change order.

Christina Moore was charged with collecting data from the residents to submit to FEMA documenting temporary bridge needs.

The Hale Road site visit adjourned at approximately 10:00, and the town, FEMA, and SVE representatives traveled on to the bridge at the foot of Deer Park Road with the junction of Green River Road, reconvening at approximately 10:15 am there.

Deer Park Road – bridge at Green River Road junction

The bridge at Deer Park Road has washouts on both ends of the abutments, and some damage to at least one of the abutments.  It is washed out entirely along one end, but residents have placed a wide plank to allow foot traffic on that side.

Christina Moore left on an emergency call at this juncture.

Peter Boemig noted at he had spoken with Barry Cahoon at ANR about this site.  Cahoon seemed to indicate this bridge should be put back as it was without worrying about width from a hydrological perspective.

Peter Boemig noted that the latest bridge inspection reports would be available from the state.

Michael Egan noted that if there was greater than 50% damage to the structure, FEMA would suggest it be replaced in kind.  He noted issues with the deck, abutment, and guard rails.  He wanted to know if SVE would supply quantities and estimates of material.  Several measurements were being taken in the field by SVE.

Joe Tamburrino noted that we need to be careful not to add tasks to SVE’s original scope without understanding the implications, and that these estimates should perhaps be done by Egan.

Resident Janet Taylor stopped in to again plead for temporary options, as residents on Deer Park are also faced with extremely long commutes due to the bridge being out.  Edee Edwards noted that safety, and even if it just for a pedestrian option is critical, as it is unlikely that a temporary bridge could be worked out for this longer span bridge (43 feet clear span).  Janet’s contact information was taken to pass along to Christina Moore for the justification work for FEMA.

This portion of the site visit concluded at approximately 10:52 am.

Reed Hill Road – bridge near junction with Collins & Branch Rds.

The discussion at the Reed Hill Road bridge started at approximately 11:15 am.  One of the bridge abutments on the Reed Hill Road bridge is now in the stream itself, as the washout around it was complete.  There is also a wing wall in the stream, between the bridge abutments.

Structurally, a question about whether the differential settlement of the beams is enough to have stressed the shape of the deck beyond what could be potentially reused.

John LaFlamme asked whether there was a possible Hazard Mitigation Grant that could address future flooding issues by widening this bridge to 2 lanes, since the bridge spans a 90 degree curve in the road.  Michael Egan expressed that extending the wing wall would be something more likely to be a mitigation solution.  Lengthening a bridge to meet current codes and standards would be approved, but creating a 2 lane bridge would likely only be considered under the competitive grants (Hazard Mitigation Grants), and improvements would have to be funded from the town.

Edee Edwards questioned whether adjacent landowners would be impacted by the bridge work.  John LaFlamme said most of the work should occur in the right-of-way.  SVE said that we may need temporary work easements when dealing with the bridge abutments, in particular.

The group also had a discussion that it might be wise to remove the bridge deck / superstructure earlier.  This would allow the engineers to better assess the condition and determine the ability to reuse components.  Ideas were floated about reusing this at Hale Road, or doing a project for mitigation that would involve putting the bridge on piles.  Several construction details were discussed as well; cable strands and grouting, and whether the bridge deck can be separated.

This portion of the meeting went until about 12:00 noon.

Town Office

Lewis Sumner drove the FEMA representatives to their car on Hale Road, while some contract details were reviewed with SVE, starting at about 12:15 pm.

The contract with SVE was formally signed.

A discussion of timelines was held.  Topographic work will begin next week, then SVE will start the hydrology work.  SVE noted the date and time of the Selectboard meetings, and plans to meet in early January, probably at the first meeting.  After that, they can start on design.

Steve Tarbox will look at salvage values.  The 50% damage issue with FEMA funding was discussed, but design issues and funding issues ideally should be separated.

SVE will submit change order proposals to do a hydrology study at Wineburg bridge, and to look at temporary bridge options.  Joe Tamburrino will be the point of contact for SVE.

SVE need to know who will be their AOT contact.  Peter Boemig will try to find that answer.

Lewis Sumner returned.   John LaFlamme made a motion to go out to bid on removing the deck bridge on Reed Hill Road so that SVE can inspect it structurally, and removing the wing wall and abutment from the stream.  Edee Edwards seconded the motion, and it passed 3-0.

Old Business

Edee Edwards made a motion to adopt a resolution for closure of the roads surrounding the Hale Road, Deer Park, and Reed Hill bridges.  John seconded it, and it passed 3-0.

The meeting adjourned at 1:12 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Edee Edwards, Selectboard member