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Francestown Select Board going out to bid on temporary bridge

  • The Francestown Select Board met with road agent Gary Paige Monday night to discuss the next steps needed for a temporary bridge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • The Francestown Select Board met with road agent Gary Paige Monday night to discuss the next steps needed for a temporary bridge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

FRANCESTOWN — After voting to go ahead with a temporary bridge proposal at Town Meeting for the 2nd N.H. Turnpike, Francestown officials met with Road Agent Gary Paige on Monday night to determine the next steps needed to make the proposal a reality.

Tempers at the meeting in Francestown’s town office building flared a bit Monday after two out of three Select Board members stated that bridge proposals would need to be sent out to bid, per town guidelines.

Francestown Sand and Gravel President Kris Stewart, who drew up original plans for a temporary one-lane bridge with the help of engineers, said at Town Meeting on Saturday that the bridge would be constructed sooner if the project was given to his company, skipping the bidding process altogether.

Town guidelines state that projects over $5,000 are required to be sent out to different companies who will then submit bids for the project. Stewart’s proposal is for $70,000.

Recently reelected Select Board member Scott Carbee said Monday that he feels the bridge has the potential to be completed in a much shorter amount of time if Stewart is given the project.

“I’m a proponent of going forward as fast as we can with this project,” Carbee said. “People on the [Town Meeting] floor didn’t want any monkeying around. We need to get engineering stamps.”

Each site the temporary bridge is scheduled to be placed — the 2nd N.H. Turnpike until repairs to the bridge there begin in the summer of 2014 and Woodward Hill Road, where the second of two closed town bridges is located — will need to receive an engineering stamp of approval before it can legally be open to traffic.

The plans for the bridge, according to Paige, needs to be reviewed first, then taken to CLD Engineers, the company Francestown employs for consulting. The plans will be reviewed by CLD, and from there a timeline for the completion will be developed along with requests for proposals that will be sent out to companies for bidding.

Paige will meet with the Select Board again on March 28 to discuss the progress made.

Up to this point, the town has spent just under $15,000 since December evaluating options for bridge repairs. Town Administrator Michael Branley said he can’t be certain how much will be spent in the coming weeks on engineering review.

Select Board Chair Betsy Hardwick said that Henry Kunhardt, a Francestown resident and engineer, volunteered to help Paige review the plans to determine if changes need to be made.

“Then they will bring something to CLD,” Hardwick said Monday night. “Then we as a Select Board will figure out where to go next.”

Hardwick and third Select Board member Abigail Arnold said Monday that sending Stewart’s proposal out to various companies for bidding will possibly shed light on some savings, if other companies think they can construct a cheaper bridge.

Several residents in attendance Monday accused the board of not treating the situation as an emergency, which irked Hardwick, Arnold and Paige.

The sense of urgency, Hardwick said, has died down since the 2nd N.H. Turnpike and Woodward Hill bridge closed in December. There is currently a viable detour route that is working fine on Red House Road, so the situation is no longer classified as an emergency, she said.

Carbee told the Ledger-Transcript just after his reelection to the Select Board that his primary goal was to get this temporary bridge voted on and built as soon as possible. “In my mind, we don’t need to go out and bid. We need to get going on this,” Carbee said.

Arnold said Monday that maybe the people at Town Meeting who approved spending $70,000 on the temporary bridge didn’t anticipate a lengthier process. “The people voted for a temporary bridge for $70,000,” Arnold said on Monday. “That’s all they voted for.”

There is no set date for completion of the temporary bridge, but the Select Board roughly estimates a July 1 finish. The goal is still to get the project completed as soon as possible, they said.

The current detour is just 0.7 miles, if you drive the speed limit it is just 39 seconds out of your day. The red shirt whinners at Town Meeting burdened us all with $70,000 of throwaway expenses. FOR WHAT ??? I bet there are some things that need to be done in Town that would last 10-15-20 years that COULD have been done with that $70,000. This is a 12-14 month "fix" for nothing. It's like putting a bandaid on a 3 yr old just to stop him from crying.. (even if there is no wound)

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