Town mulls bridge design options for turnpike

FRANCESTOWN — The Select Board held a public hearing Monday night when conceptual plans for a permanent bridge over the South Branch Piscataquog River were presented. A concrete-beam design was recommended by the town’s engineering consultant.

John Byatt, a representative from CLD Consulting Engineers, Inc., presented three different bridge designs, including a steel-beam design at an estimated $900,000; an arch-frame design at an estimated $950,000; and the concrete-beam design at an estimated $928,000.

The concrete-beam design was recommended because it is the most cost-effective and also requires less periodic maintenance than the other designs, Town Administrator Michael Branley said Wednesday. The board did not vote on which design to go with at Monday’s meeting, but Branley said the board seemed to favor the engineer’s recommendation. This design will give the bridge a 50 foot clear span, which is the length the bridge span from one side of the riverbed to the other, Branley noted.

Of the estimated $928,000 needed for the bridge, the N.H. Department of Transportation’s State Aid Bridge program is expected to cover 80 percent of the cost and the town will need to pay the remaining 20 percent, Branley said. Of the 80 percent paid by the aid program, Branley said only 50 percent will be paid in early July 2014 and the rest will be paid when the project is completed.

The next step in the process is for the town and CLD to solicit bids from construction companies in early 2014, according to Branley, which may take up to two months as CLD representative Byatt said at the meeting.

Construction is expected to take a full bridge construction season from the spring through the fall. During construction time, the town will use the same detour for traffic that was used during construction of the temporary bridge now in place: Red House Road and Cross Road.

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