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Grant would cover all costs of bridge repair

FRANCESTOWN — The Select Board voted unanimously on May 31 to authorize Town Administrator Michael Branley to draft and sign a U.S. Department of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant application. The grant, if acquired, would be used to repair a bridge on the 2nd N.H. Turnpike in the summer of 2014. If the town receives the TIGER grant, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost for repairs to reopen the bridge.

The Turnpike bridge, which was closed in December 2012 for safety reasons, is scheduled to receive state bridge aid for renovations next summer. If the project is funded by state bridge aid rather than a federal TIGER grant, the N.H. DOT would pay 80 percent of the cost, while the town would have to cover 20 percent.

Town officials closed the bridge at the end of 2012, after receiving a recommendation from the state DOT to do so.

“The figure from the warrant from last year was $1.2 million [for repairs to the Turnpike bridge],” Branley said in a phone interview June 3. “That was based on DOT estimates and with inflation calculated in.”

To receive a TIGER grant, the DOT usually assigns a minimum requirement of $1 million for rural area projects, Branley said. This is the first time the town has applied for the grant, since typically bridge projects in town don’t exceed the $1 million benchmark.

“Right now we think it’s the only one we have that will qualify,” Branley said.

The application that was sent out June 3 included a narrative of the situation and a cost-benefit analysis. The due date for TIGER grant applications was June 3 at 5 p.m. Branley said he isn’t sure what sort of timeline the DOT has set for awarding TIGER grants to projects.

The Fiscal Year 2013 Appropriations Act appropriated $474 million nationwide available through Sept. 30, 2014, for national infrastructure investments, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website.

Construction has been completed on a temporary, one-lane bridge for the 2nd N.H. Turnpike. It will be in place until the permanent bridge reopens to traffic next summer.

Select Board Chair Betsy Hardwick said in a phone interview Monday that the town still had not heard about the status of the TIGER grant application.

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