Residents hear about plan for Stagecoach Road bridge

WILTON – The bridge on Stagecoach Road, near the junction with Burton Highway, which has been under discussion for several years, is on the state Department of Transportation list to be replaced during the summer of 2021.

On Aug. 5, project manage Josif Bicja, an engineer with Hoyle, Tanner Associates, presented an informational slide show overview of the project prior to a meeting of the Select Board. About a dozen residents attended the hour-long hearing.

“We are in the early stages of design,” Bicja said. “The surveying has been done. Since this is a state bridge aid project and their guidelines have to be followed. The state will pay 80 percent of the design and construction costs, currently estimated at about $700,000. The remainder will come from the town’s bridge replacement/repair capital reserve fund.

“We have done the preliminary design and the environmental study,” he said, as well as a topographic survey and drilled to find bedrock. They are looking to find the minimal impact of residents and the environment.

Once a design is agreed upon, the next phase is the bid process.

The suggested design is a pre-cast concrete arch using the current foundations, which will provide the required opening to accommodate a 100-year flood. Railings will be timber as they are now so as not to change the appearance of the bridge and retain its character.

Built in 1940, the bridge is considered “historic,” and must be documented Plans have been coordinated with the N.H. Division of Historic Resources. The bridge replaced an earlier one.

The project will require about 180 feet of road reconstruction and the bridge will be relocated about eight feet to the center of the town’s right-of-way. The approach from Burton Highway will be regraded to lower the grade. The new bridge will be rated for 15 tons (currently restricted to three tons or passenger cars). It is expected to have a 75-year life span and be designed for minimal maintenance. The final design should be approved next summer, and a construction contract awarded. Work would be done in the summer and fall of 2021.

“The bridge will be fine until then,” Bicja said.

Several residents expressed concern about speed (“People just fly by and slam on the brakes when they see Burton Highway”). The Select Board said they can add signage including a warning sign farther up the hill.