Old County Farm bridge repairs could aid repair of historic Wilton bridge

  • The head of Old County Farm Road is blocked from the Temple side due to the closure of a historic stone arch bridge. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/24/2023 1:49:19 PM

Plans to address deficiencies in the bridge crossing Blood Brook on Old County Farm Road in Wilton could have positive implications for another bridge on the road – a historic stone arch bridge that has been closed to traffic for its own deficiencies.

The Wilton Select Board met with Josif Bicja of the engineering firm Hoyle, Tanner & Associates Monday to discuss the next steps for the Old County Farm Road bridge, and what impacts the repair could have on the arch bridge on the other end of the road.

The main bridge on the road is currently on the state’s red list, which identifies bridges in need of repair, but is still open to traffic.

Old County Farm Road connects to Burton Highway and Route 101, and is mainly a Class V road, with a portion – less than a mile – classified as Class VI. Current estimates to repair the bridge are about $553,000, though Town Administrator Nick Germain noted that estimate is out of date and likely to have increased. That estimate represents the total cost of the project, but Wilton anticipates receiving state bridge aid to cover 80 percent of the work.

In addition to state aid, the town has also received additional federal infrastructure funding as part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill. Included in the bill is $110 billion allocated to bridge infrastructure repair, including reconstruction costs of the Old County Farm Road bridge.

While the town will still be responsible for covering engineering costs, the bill is expected to save in construction costs.

Wilton currently has multiple bridges on the red list, including one added in 2022 on Isaac Frye Road over the Burton Pond outlet. Other red-listed bridges in town include the bridge on Temple Road over Blood Brook and the King Brook Road bridge over King Brook, which is anticipated to be the most expensive.

At the town’s request, Bicja met with representatives of the state Department of Transportation to discuss the possibility of including the stone arch bridge in the plans for the main bridge repair.

Germain said because of the layout of the road, the repair of the main bridge would require the installation of an access during construction. Previous discussions had included a temporary bridge built over the stone arch bridge. Bicja and representatives of the town have instead proposed diverting those funds to do more-permanent work on the stone arch to make it passable.

The stone arch bridge has been a matter of discussion for the town for several years, and repair estimates have suggested a wide range of costs, depending upon the scope of the repair. The least-expensive option would be about $260,000, but the bridge would lose its historic structure. The most-expensive, which would retain the stone arch, would cost about $850,000.

Neighbors have spoken strongly in favor of maintaining the historic arch, but the bridge has a limited amount of traffic, with only three homes beyond the bridge and Burton Highway.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertran script.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.

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