WHO MOVED THE BRIDGE…..AGAIN?
It was no secret that our town’s cherished covered bridge, the Bement Covered Bridge, was moved. This old lady needed some tender loving care and had to be renovated. Can’t really blame her since the bridge is 167 years old! Our beloved bridge is one of the 54 covered bridges that still remain in our state.
The repairs and improvements took 12 months and involved several highly skilled companies to work together. Before any of the construction work could begin the trees on each shoreline had to be removed. This was highly technical work since they worked so close to the river. The town selected an experienced tree service company from way down on the Connecticut shoreline to do this work. Bob Garfield, owner of CT Shoreline Tree Service said, “We brought 6 of my most experienced workers to handle this job. We not only had to cut and remove all of the trees, but we had to grind down the stumps of over 175 trees in order to make a smooth path of moving the bridge. It was a rewarding job when it was all completed as planned.”
The biggest job was installing new abutments..those are the piers that support the bridge on shore and in the river. The meandering Warner River kept flowing as the work was completed. The bridge itself was moved 200 feet downstream during the work period. It was just put back into place. This work was done by Daniels Construction in Ascutney, VT, which has performed a number of covered bridge restorations over the years. The company repaired deteriorated sections in the bridge, which last saw major improvement over a half-century ago, in 1959. On Friday afternoon, Daniels is slated to pull the 90-ton bridge back into place over rollers on a steel frame, using hoists and cranes. If nothing goes wrong, the whole process should take about half an hour.
The Bement Covered Bridge, just south of Bradford center, is about 70 feet long, a single span with a design known as Long truss. It is the third bridge put on that location and is named after Samuel Bement, who owned land there.
The upgrade is budgeted at $1.65 million. It is mostly paid for by state and federal funds, with Bradford contributing approximately $205,000.