New Bridge Program Cuts Construction Time

governorST. JOHNSBURY-  Thanks to a new Advanced Bridge program, bridge construction in St. Johnsbury finished five days earlier than expected. The new bridge, located on Route 2B, reopened this summer after being closed for 45 days.



"(The bridge) incorporates a lot of different visions, as well as trying to protect the rail trail and Route 2B, and doing so in a manner that was expedited by this advanced bridge program," said Governor Scott, who was on hand yesterday to cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the bridge. "It kept the rail trail and route 2 in use for longer periods of time during the year."

Governor Scott attributes the rapid completion of the bridge to new techniques that use pre-fabricated designs. The advantage of this is that instead of waiting for concrete to set, pre-cast structures are shipped to the construction site. It cuts down curing time, costs less, and is also safer. Workers don't take as long to complete the project, which keeps delays to a minimum.

V-Trans Secretary Joe Flynn also expressed his pleasure with the accelerated bridge program.

"We are promoting this accelerated bridge program, but we're having conservations with communities so say 'If you allow us to entirely close a road for a shortened period of time, we can get in and out much more quickly than we can if we have to put in a temporary bridge and then have one lane traffic and traffic control. That adds to the cost of projects and to the length of time to deliver projects.

Flynn addressed one issue with construction on bridges like this is adapting new techniques so they can build within the constraints of how they were designed and built decades ago.

"The previous bridge that stood was in rough shape when they decided it was time to replace it. I do know that we don't invest in bridges replacements if we don't need to."

The bridge replacement has been in the works for almost 20 years, back when Governor Scott was on the Senate Transportation Committee in 2000. 

The bridge stretches across the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, which when completed, will be 96 miles in length from St. Johnsbury to Swan. Flynn says that it is a "gem" and that it plays a vital role in Northeast Kingdom Recreation.

"When you look at the various recreational opportunites that all these trails around the state offer, this is probably going to be the signature trail. And the fact that the bridge sort of frames the beauty of the trail right in this location is very fortunate." said Flynn. 

Tom Moore owns part of the property that both the bridge and the rail trail sit on, and is also pleased about what the trail has to offer. 

"As a Selectman of St. Johnsbury, I'm really happy that we're being able to get bikers, hikers, and snowmobilers out. Anything that we can do to help ge the tourists and the local people using it."

With all of the people pleased with how the construction went, the new advanced bridge program is expected to be used on 17 other bridge construction projects around the state.