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N.H. Rejects Vt.’s Offer To Repair Vilas Bridge

People in Bellows Falls have been upset about the nearly five-year closure of a bridge over the Connecticut River that connects their community to Walpole, N.H.

The Vilas Bridge was closed in 2009 after a semi-annual inspection found deterioration of the bridge deck.

Bellows Falls residents started a grassroots effort to get the bridge re-opened. They’re concerned because cars have been re-routed to another bridge less than a mile away, and that means traffic don’t pass by a number of small businesses.

Now the Vermont Agency of Transportation has made an offer to keep it open. Agency officials told their New Hampshire counterparts that Vermont will pay for the rehabilitation of the bridge if New Hampshire helps pay for repairs to all other bridges spanning the Connecticut River.

Domenic Poli has been following that story for the Brattleboro Reformer and spoke with VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb for our Regional Report.

New Hampshire owns 93 percent of the bridge.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation said Thursday they will not accept Vermont's offer due to financial difficulties and too many unmet transportation needs in New Hampshire.

Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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