On May 31, 2019

Two historic covered bridges damaged in Woodstock

Staff report

Two covered bridges in Woodstock have been damaged by oversized vehicles.

The Taftsville bridge was hit by a piece of equipment on a trailer May 20 while the Lincoln Covered Bridge was hit by a driver carrying landscaping equipment that made his truck too tall for the bridge’s 10-foot opening on May 15. The driver broke several of the upper collar ties and damaged some beams.

“I’ve never ever seen anything like it,” Town Manager Phil Swanson said in a May 21 Select Board meeting.

Swanson said the damage is similar to what was done in Tropical Storm Irene.
Swanson said the driver of the Lincoln bridge incident said he was afraid the bridge would collapse around him and decided to keep driving.

Both bridges date back to the 1800s. The Taftsville Covered Bridge was built in 1836 and is one of the oldest covered bridges in the nation while the Lincoln Covered Bridge was built in 1877 by R.W. Pinney and B.H. Pinney and could be the only surviving wood bridges that uses the Pratt truss design, a triangular truss form more commonly used in metal bridges later.

Swanson said the hefy damage to the Lincoln bridge will take time to repair.

“This is not the time of year to be looking for a contractor,” he said.  “Simple as that.”

Swanson found renovation plans from 1998 to help with the rehabilitation efforts of the Lincoln bridge.

“We’re advertising for an engineer now,” Swanson said.

The bridge repairment is likely to be costly. The bridge is covered under insurance from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, Swanson said. The VLCT will bill the driver’s insurance company to recoup costs.

The Lincoln Bridge is closed to traffic for the time being while the Taftsville Covered Bridge, which sustained less damage, is open and will be an easier fix with a cost estimate between $3,000 to $4,000, Swanson said.

It’s unclear when the repair work will be done to either bridge.

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