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Swamp Road bridge may be shut down

  • During a public hearing Tuesday, the Select Board discussed discontinuing Swamp Road and limiting access to the Swamp Road bridge. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • During a public hearing Tuesday, the Select Board discussed discontinuing Swamp Road and limiting access to the Swamp Road bridge. Staff photo by Ashley Saari



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sharon may shut down access to Swamp Road – and its bridge – to everyone but residents of the road as early as next year.

On Tuesday, the Sharon Select Board discussed its approach to repairing and replacing the town’s five bridges, in what Chair Carl Newton told attendees would be an ongoing conversation this year. 

Two bridges, one being the Swamp Road bridge and the other the Mill Road bridge, are not highly trafficked, and not likely to be priorities as the town begins to replenish its bridge capital reserve funds for future bridge replacements and repairs, said Newton. 

The Swamp Road bridge is the only one that the town maintains that is currently on the state’s red list, rated that way for the poor condition of its substructure, despite the deck and superstructure being reconstructed in 1991 and still being in good condition. However, it’s unlikely that the town will try to improve the substructure condition of that bridge, said Newton, and instead limit traffic on that road by closing it with bars and gates. The plan, said Newton, would be to allow residents of Swamp Road to have access with keys, and to otherwise stop maintaining the road and allowing it to lapse into a Class VI road.

Newton added that he would like to see general traffic barred from that road for an additional reason: To prevent illegal dumping and vandalism which has been a problem in that area.

“We’ve had some situation on that road every year,” said Newton, who described people leaving trash, including large items such as furniture and, in one case, an oil drum, by Gridley River, people shooting at road signs and destroying trail cameras.

Newton said it was the board’s intention to bring the issue to next year’s Town Meeting to get an official vote on whether or not to close the road and bridge off.

While there is not plans at this time to close the bridge, the other area Newton said the town was unlikely to put funds toward is the bridge on Mill Road. While the bridge is rated fair by the state, and former Road Agent Pete Paris told the board that with upkeep the bridge could maintain that rating for another five or ten years, the board said that if it comes to the point that the bridge needs to be replaced, the town will prioritize the more trafficked bridges first.

“This is a bridge that wouldn’t be a top priority to replace. Bridges are expensive, and if there’s going to be a point where a bridge has to go by the wayside, this may be the one,” said Newton. 

It is possible to reach either side of the bridge through alternate routes, said Newton. 

The bridge on Cross Road is only three years old, and still rated in excellent condition, meaning that as the town tries to build up its bridge fund – which currently has $27,000 – it will be focusing on its two remaining bridges, on McCoy Road and Spring Hill Road. 

The town will be addressing repairs to the McCoy Road bridge this year, to address issues with the substructure. The project will not be an extensive repair, costing about $3,000, according to Newton. 

Whether the McCoy Road or Spring Hill Road bridge will take priority will depend upon timing and their condition, said Newton. The town will likely apply for state aid for any major repairs or replacements, which could cover up to 80 percent of the cost, but the wait to receive those funds can be up to 10-12 years. The Select Board will also be continuing conversations on the bridge’s needs this year, and looking for resident feedback. 

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.