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Loon Mountain bridge repair money found

Special to the Union Leader

January 24. 2013 8:47PM

LINCOLN - It might take up to 18 months for the construction of a new Loon Mountain bridge over the east branch of the Pemigewasset River, but at least the funding for the project has been secured.

FEMA has agreed that replacing the bridge, rather than repairing the one damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, is the most cost-effective use of federal funds. The estimated cost of the bridge is $6 million, of which FEMA would pay 75 percent, about $4.5 million. The town will be responsible for 20 percent of the remaining $1.5 million, about $300,000. The state will pay the balance.

Al "Butch" Burbank, Lincoln town manager, announced on Wednesday that town officials were given the good news at a meeting with FEMA and state Department of Transportation officials. He said the funds the town has already spent on the project, in particular work by HEB Engineers, will count toward the municipality's share.

Burbank said that HEB is pretty confident with the $6 million figure.

"It looks like the final design will start immediately," Burbank said. "While the exact timeline has not been established, it appears that the project will go out to bid sometime in the fall of 2013, with an anticipated construction start of spring of 2014."

Burbank called the bridge "critically important" for the area, not only for safety and security reasons, but also because of the economic impact of the businesses and homes on the other side of the river. The bridge serves as the major access to Loon Mountain Resort, the Mountain Club on Loon and residences.

Several days after Irene, a section of the bridge collapsed, caused by flood waters undermining supports.

There is another bridge crossing the river from Route 112, but it is not publicly owned and goes through private home developments. That bridge was used for several months in the aftermath of the August 2011 storm.

A temporary Bailey bridge for pedestrians was put in place for in time for the 2011 Highland Games, and a prefabricated modular steel Acrow bridge, owned and erected by the state DOT, for vehicular traffic was in place by the beginning of the 2011-2012 ski season. That bridge is still in service. The new bridge will be constructed south of the old one.

"The town is grateful to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Gov. John Lynch, Executive Councilor Ray Burton and Director Chris Pope, N.H. Bureau of Emergency Management, for their support and assistance," Burbank said.

The town will continue to work with HEB. The North Conway company's structural engineers will proceed with preliminary design activities. The design phases will include public information sessions.

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