P/cloudy
41°
P/cloudy
Hi 65° | Lo 42°

Temporary bridge added to operating budget

  • Francestown Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Francestown Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Francestown Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Francestown Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Francestown Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Francestown resident Kris Stewart, left, describes his proposal for a one-lane temporary bridge to the Town Meeting audience on Saturday at Francestown Elementary School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Francestown Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Francestown Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

FRANCESTOWN — The town operating budget was increased by $83,874 on Saturday at Town Meeting, largely due to approval of a one-lane temporary bridge that’s expected to cost $70,000 to build.

Residents voted 90-78 in a secret ballot to approve the construction of a temporary bridge proposed by Francestown resident Kris Stewart. The approved operating budget for Francestown is $1,630,941. The projected total tax rate increase is $.40 per $1,000.

The other $13,874 increase was added to the Administration and Direct Assistance line item in the Welfare section of the operating budget.

Stewart, the president of Francestown Sand and Gravel, came up with the idea for a temporary one-lane bridge, and worked with a team of engineers to further develop the design.

The temporary bridge became the subject of interest at a meeting in January, and again at the Feb. 5 budget hearing. Because two red-listed town bridges are currently closed due to structural issues, Stewart and other residents have sought options to alleviate the increased travel on detour routes.

Since it was voted on, Stewart and the town Select Board will look to put the pieces together as early as possible. The Select Board met with road agent Gary Paige on Monday night to determine the next steps that should be taken.

The bridge will be placed at the site of the 2nd N.H. Turnpike’s closed bridge until repairs to the Turnpike begin in the summer of 2014.

Stewart’s proposed bridge will have the capability to be moved and placed at other locations by a crane. Stewart estimates the weight of the temporary bridge to be 27 tons. He added on Saturday that the proposed bridge would be able to sustain any weight in accordance with New Hampshire’s E-2 designation. An E-2 bridge is capable of sustaining a legal load limit of 80,000 pounds, which includes school buses, fire and oil trucks, and fully loaded dump trucks.

Once construction begins to repair the Turnpike bridge, the temporary bridge can be moved to Woodward Hill Road, where the second of two closed town bridges is located. This is pending an engineering stamp of approval.

“I think that this is something that is a hot item,” Stewart said Saturday at Francestown Elementary School. “I think it would be beneficial for the town.”

Residents and town officials expressed safety concerns over increased traffic at the intersection of Route 136 and the northern end of Red House Road — the Turnpike detour route.

Vehicles traveling from Francestown toward New Boston come over a hill and meet the intersection of Red House Road quickly. Select Board member Scott Carbee said on Saturday that if there were an accident at that intersection, someone’s life could be in danger.

“I believe money is no issue when it comes to life and limb,” Carbee said.

Road Agent Gary Paige said he is opposed to building a temporary bridge, since the town is just 18 months out from repairs to the Turnpike bridge.

Article 7 asked for the appropriation of $1.4 million for the town’s participation in the state bridge aid program, which will be used to repair the Woodward Hill bridge and the Juniper Hill bridge, which is on the state’s red list. State grant funds will total $1.12 million, and the additional $280,000 will be taken from a reserve fund, so there will be no impact on taxes.

All other articles on the town warrant passed except for two that were tabled until 2014, and one that did not receive a majority vote. Articles 12 and 13 (to replenish the Building Improvements fund and to remove temporary posts supporting the first floor of Town Hall, respectively) were not recommended by the Select Board or the Budget Advisory Committee, and were tabled.

Article 16 asked to change the town treasurer position from an elected official to one appointed by the Select Board. Residents decided that they would rather the position remain one elected by the town, despite some concerns that no one would run.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.