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Detours on 2nd NH Turnpike in place for the long haul

FRANCESTOWN - Drivers using the 2nd New Hampshire Turnpike to commute or to visit the Crotched Mountain Ski Area in Bennington will have to get used to taking detours as repairs to a failed bridge might not happen for some time.

On Dec. 4, during a routine inspection of the bridge that spans the Piscataquog River on the 2nd New Hampshire Turnpike, the state Department of Transportation recommended the immediate closure of the bridge because it was no longer safe to carry all traffic. A second bridge on Woodard Hill Road over Brennan Brook was also closed.

Since Dec. 4, traffic has been detoured around the closure, taking drivers down Red House and Center roads. In the meantime, the Francestown Board of Selectmen began investigating ways to repair the bridges temporarily before funding can be found for more permanent fixes.

The 2nd New Hampshire Turnpike Bridge was slated to be replaced in 2015 with funds from the state's 10-year highway budget, but waiting two years or more wasn't an option the selectmen were comfortable with.

However, last week, the board learned from Selectman Road Agent Gary Paige that the temporary repairs he thought might be possible to get the road open weren't in the best interest of the town, according to Francestown's Administrative Coordinator Michael Branley.

According to the town's engineering firm CLD Engineers, any temporary solutions that might have been considered aren't adequate to handle the flow of water through the two culverts that make up the bridge.

Additionally, the temporary repairs wouldn't hold the need for permanent repairs at bay beyond their scheduled replacement date, and Paige said he couldn't justify spending as much as $250,000 on repairs to a bridge that would be replaced the following year anyway.

The Board of Selectmen agreed with Paige's assessment that spending a quarter of a million dollars on such a short-term fix was not justifiable, and as it stands, the bridge on the 2nd New Hampshire Turnpike will likely remain closed until at least 2014



nfoster@newstote.com

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