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Plans For New Connecticut River Bridge Move Forward

VPR/Susan Keese

Plans for a new Connecticut River Bridge between Brattleboro and Hinsdale, N.H. have taken a step forward. The long delayed bridge replacement is included in New Hampshire’s Draft 2015 Ten-Year Transportation Plan.

The new, single-span bridge would replace two aging bridges that meet on an island in the middle of the river. Officials in both states say it’s only a matter of time before the 1920s-era spans are declared unsafe and forced to close.

The bridge replacement was taken off  New Hampshire’s ten-year plan a year ago, due to a lack of funds. The project is expected to cost $45 million.

J.B. Mack of New Hampshire’s Southwest Region Planning Agency says most of the cost would be borne by New Hampshire. The Granite state owns the river up to the Vermont shoreline.

“And that’s one of the big hurdles,” Mack says. “But it’s extremely important and if these bridges were to be shut down, the communities would be devastated.  People work on either side of the river, shop on either side of the river.”

The bridge is also used by emergency vehicles that serve towns on both sides of the river.

Mack says a group of leaders and legislators from both states started meeting a year or so ago to revive the project, which has languished in the planning stage for decades.

Mack says the project would be eligible for federal reimbursements for as much as eighty percent of the cost.

The Draft Ten-Year Plan now faces a series of public meetings, including meetings in Hinsdale, N.H. on September 25 and in Keene, N.H. on October 8.

From there the plan goes to the governor and finally the state legislature for possible revisions.

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR.
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