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Vermont offers N.H. proposal on closed bridge

Vermont has offered to help New Hampshire fix a dilapidated bridge connecting the two states.

The Trucker News Services

1/10/2014

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. — The Vermont Agency of Transportation has offered a proposal to New Hampshire on fixing a deteriorating bridge that connects the states.

The 635-foot-long Vilas Bridge connecting Bellows Falls with Walpole, N.H., closed in 2009 after it was deemed unsafe. New Hampshire owns 93 percent and is responsible for that percentage of maintenance. It has said the proximity of another bridge and budgetary limitations make renovations unfeasible.

Vermont Transportation Deputy Secretary Sue Minter told the Brattleboro Reformer (http://bit.ly/1bI41RH) the transportation commissioners in both states have talked about a Vermont offer to finance repairs on the condition that in the future, New Hampshire helps pay for repairs to other bridges spanning the Connecticut River.

"For New Hampshire, this bridge is in the middle of a very difficult revenue problem they're having and (the Vilas) is not a high priority," she said.

New Hampshire's Transportation Department spokesman said the state's position is that it has too many unmet transportation needs.

When the bridge closed in 2009, a reported 4,600 vehicles crossed it on an average day. Village residents say businesses have suffered because of reduced traffic from Walpole, N.H.

Rockingham Development Director Francis "Dutch" Walsh, who is lives in Chesterfield, N.H., said it was uplifting to learn of Vermont's proposal.

"I was initially concerned about where the money is coming from, but they obviously must have it in order to make this offer," he said.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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