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Selectmen act to remove water and sewer lines from Groveton Covered Bridge

Union Leader Correspondent

July 08. 2014 9:52PM
The duties of the 162-year old Groveton Covered Bridge, shown here in February, will be reduced later this year to just carrying people, not utilities, over the Ammonoosuc River. A water main suspended beneath the span and a sewer line on it will be eventually be buried in the river bed beneath the bridge. (JOHN KOZIOL/Union Leader Correspondent)

NORTHUMBERLAND — The board of selectmen has agreed to accept a nearly $300,000 emergency grant to relocate a 100-year-old water line that is suspended below the Groveton Covered Bridge and also have begun looking at moving a sewer line off the historic span over the Ammonoosuc River.

Built in 1852 by Capt. Charles Richardson and his son, the Groveton Covered Bridge is 126-feet long with a 15-foot wide roadway whose use has been restricted to foot traffic and, seasonally, by snowmobiles.

The water main serves approximately 600 residents in Groveton Village according to Robin Irving, who is Northumberland’s special projects administrator. It uncoupled on April 7.

While that problem was immediately remedied, Irving said the town subsequently sought a permanent fix — which entails burying the water main in the river bed — and filed an application with the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) seeking a Community Development Block Grant.

The CDFA awarded the grant — totaling $278,000 — on June 25 and on Monday, the Northumberland selectmen voted to accept it, pending approval of the award by Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council, which will consider the matter on July 24.

Irving said the uncoupling of the cast-iron water main had become an annual occurrence and one that town officials didn’t want to happen again.

Selectmen also wanted to remove the sewer line from the bridge, but because it is intact, they could not get an emergency grant for the work from the CDFA.

Nonetheless, Irving said the town is pursuing what she called Phase II of the bridge project, which will see the sewer line taken off the bridge and buried beneath it. She said CMA Engineers of Portsmouth is presently preparing a preliminary engineering and asset report on the sewer line, which, like the water main, serves some 600 customers in Groveton.

Kevin Flynn, who is the CDFA’s communications director, said the emergency grant for the water main relocation “will allow the necessary work to begin immediately without any financial burden to the town’s property taxpayers.”

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