Bridge to be repaired in Burlington Projects

BURLINGTON Long awaited repairs on a bridge serving the Burlington Projects area will be completed in 2013.

“I got an e-mail about an hour ago and will sign the paperwork for it,” said Jerome Gruenberg, Burlington mayor, early Friday afternoon. “It will go to bids and it will be fixed this year.”

The bridge, known as the Park Road Bridge, spans the Des Lacs River near Burlington’s Old Settler’s Park and is a key entrance to homes in the Burlington Projects, a residential neighborhood. However, the bridge has been closed for several months due to the washing away of earth surrounding the support structure underneath the bridge. Part of the decking gave way too, leading to the decision to close the bridge.

Damage underneath the bridge originally occurred during the historic flood of 2011. When floodwaters receded, repairs were done on one end of the bridge. Later an engineering study determined that the opposite end of the bridge was in need of repairs too. Those repairs were unable to be completed prior to the winter of 2011-2012.

“We had a terrible time even getting anybody to look at it,” said Gruenberg. “Everybody was busy with something else.”

High flows in the Des Lacs in the spring of 2012 further aggravated problems underneath the bridge. In 2013 the Des Lacs ran hard once again, causing additional scouring around key support structures for the bridge.

“This year made it 10 times worse,” said Gruenberg. “I’ve been getting a lot of calls about it. I understand the frustration. People have to drive a long way around.”

Finding a way to fund the repairs has been challenging. The estimated cost is $80,000. Paperwork was sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for financial help along with a request for state funds.

“The whole thing was waiting for project worksheets to get approved. The state sent up an engineer to work with our engineer and anytime FEMA is involved there is a million hoops to jump through,” said Gruenberg.

Gruenberg said he expects the repair process to move along quickly now that all of the necessary paperwork has been completed, examined and approved by all agencies involved. That means it shouldn’t be too many days until the Projects Road is once again open from one end to the other. Delivery and emergency vehicles, residents and visitors will no longer have to utilize a single entrance to the area.

“It’ll be fixed, underneath the abutments and the big hole in the asphalt that is migrating across the rest of the road,” said Gruenberg. “We just didn’t dare let anybody cross it. It looks like it’s held up by toothpicks underneath.”

The Park Road Bridge is believed to have been constructed in the early 1970s. A U.S. Geological Survey “rapid deployment gauge” remains attached to the bridge today. The gauge sends automatic river readings to the National Weather Service which uses the information as part of their flood forecasting.