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Bulge of bridge work demands more transpo funding

The chains on the flatbed truck A flatbed truck is a type of truck which can be either articulated or rigid. It has an entirely flat, level body with absolutely no sides or roof. This allows for quick and easy loading of goods, and consequently they are used to transport heavy loads that are not delicate or  broke, and in Sharon, a block of granite worked its way off and came bouncing and rolling down rolling down

The liquidation of an option position by an investor at the same time that he or she takes an essentially identical position with a lower strike price.
 Interstate 89, "like a 20-ton part of a pair of dice," said Vermont Agency of Transportation The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is a Vermont executive agency (or cabinet agency). Its purpose is to develop and execute policy on transportation for the U.S. state of Vermont.  spokesman John Zicconi. Bad luck after crunching about 400 feet of pavement, it was finally stopped - by the bridge over Vermont Route 132.

"It just happened to fall off the truck where our bridge was in the way," said Zicconi in an interview later the same day. So instead of being able to repair the pavement in a few hours, he said, they would have to fix the bridge's deck and guard rails, too, which would probably close the structure for a week

"Welcome to the unpredictable world of VTrans," he said.

As the state heads past another gubernatorial election toward another legislative session and another budget, infrastructure issues look as if they will have a high priority, regardless of who sits where in Montpelier. They all have to get there, and that classic of native Vermont direction-giving "You can't get there from hem" increasingly seems to be a question of whether certain bridges are out or not.

As VTrans winds up one busy season and prepares for the next, they want to make sure the Legislature's decisions are based on sound information, Zicconi said.

"Everyone naturally thinks we have many more posted, closed or restricted bridges than we did 10 years ago, when in fact we have fewer," said a summary he forwarded titled "Bridge Facts."

Looking at the statistics, the bridge report said "in 1997, Vermont had 162 restricted, closed, posted, or temporary bridges. In 2007, the number was 138."

Restricted bridges went from 28 to 36 - something Zicconi said may relate to better technology and a more technological way of inspecting and rating and prioritizing. But posted bridges dropped from 102 to 76, dosed bridges went down from 13 to 12, and the number of temporary bridges in place (repairs postponed) declined from 19 to 14.

That doesn't mean Vermont is getting caught up with its infrastructure needs, he said, and it doesn't mean that the Legislature can safely cut transportation funding. What the pattern does show, he said, is that "we're holding our own," trying very hard to address the issue.

There are other ways of categorizing bridges, some of which will need definitions.

Bridges that are "structurally deficient" have shown problems during the inspections that take place at least every two years, and annually or every six months or more frequently if conditions warrant. The designation does not mean that the bridges are unsafe, Zicconi emphasized - if they were, they would be closed, or posted if unsafe under some loads.

Nationally, Vermont ranks 43rd in having 18.5 percent (497) of its 2,688 bridges structurally deficient, said Bridge Facts. Interstate structurally deficient bridges went from 15 in 2001 to 35 in 2007 (11 percent structurally deficient), State bridges from 149 to 157 in that period (20 percent deficient), and town highway bridges from 285 to 305 (19 percent deficient).

Bridges can be "functionally obsolete" yet be handling traffic loads quite safely, Zicconi said. They may be too narrow or low to meet present codes, or have an entrance/exit that limits visibility, or have some other aspect that would make replacement ultimately desirable - but not necessarily a priority.

Of Vermont's 2,688 total bridges, 461, or 17.2 percent, are classified by Wrens as functionally obsolete. Of the Interstate bridges, that includes 89, or 28 percent; for State highway bridges, 85, or 11 percent; and for town highway bridges, 297, or 18 percent.

Vermont's bridge problem is similar to the country's problem in dealing with the problems of the post-World-War-Two Baby Boom, Zicconi agreed: the bridges came in bulges. One came in the Fifties, a time when the American economy was resurgent re·sur·gent  
1. Experiencing or tending to bring about renewal or revival.

2. Sweeping or surging back again.

Adj. 1.
 after the war that had devastated dev·as·tate  
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.

2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark.
 the economies of its potential competitors - a building boom that included, but was not limited to, the Interstate Defense Highway System.

Bridges last roughly 80 years, Zicconi said, and in midlife mid·life
See middle age.

Of, relating to, or characteristic of middle age.
, they need work to stay functional - the situation of the Fifties bridges. Another general rule is that by spending one dollar on such preventive maintenance The routine checking of hardware that is performed by a field engineer on a regularly scheduled basis. See remedial maintenance.

preventive maintenance - (PM) To bring down a machine for inspection or test purposes.

See provocative maintenance, scratch monkey.
, 10 dollars are saved on what would otherwise have been eventual emergency-catastrophic repairs.

As those watching the progress of Vermont's wettest summer this year have observed, the combination of high rainfall and hilly hill·y  
adj. hill·i·er, hill·i·est
1. Having many hills.

2. Similar to a hill; steep.

 terrain results in floods - the worst enemy of bridges. Back in 1927, at a time when sheep-raising had reduced the ability of forest watersheds to absorb prolonged rains, the state's worst flood took out more than a thousand bridges - and in the 1930's, public works public works
Construction projects, such as highways or dams, financed by public funds and constructed by a government for the benefit or use of the general public.

Noun 1.
 projects replaced them en masse en masse  
In one group or body; all together: The protesters marched en masse to the capitol.

[French : en, in + masse, mass.

Now, said Zicconi, those concrete bridges are hitting the 80-year mark. Making the situation worse, the iron structured inside the concrete weren't designed for today's road salt use, and have in many cases undergone serious corrosion.

Roughly speaking, Zicconi said, Vermont's bridge history goes from wooden bridges (mostly covered, but not all), to iron bridges that were exposed skeletons, to concrete bridges that clad the iron skeletons, to modem precast concrete precast concrete

Concrete cast into structural members under factory conditions and then brought to the building site. A 20th-century development, precasting increases the strength and finish durability of the member and decreases time and construction costs.
 with corrosion protection. (In Hartland several years ago, when a failing concrete bridge needed to be replaced, the Select Board heeded Stannard covered bridge builder Bridge Builder is a series of computer games developed and published by Chronic Logic. Bridge Builder is the first in the series, followed by Pontifex, Pontifex 2 (later renamed to Bridge Construction Set[1]), and Bridge It.  Jan Lewandoski's observation that "Concrete has been a worldwide disappointment" and hired him to built a new wooden bridge.)

Vermont's iron bridges are as much in need of historic preservation Historic preservation is the act of maintaining and repairing existing historic materials and the retention of a property's form as it has evolved over time. When considering the United States Department of Interior's interpretation: "Preservation calls for the existing form,  as its covered bridges, the latter having benefited substantially from federal money obtained when former Senator James Jeffords learned of the situation and started a federal support program. John Weaver

“John Weaver” redirects here. For other people named John Weaver, see John Weaver (disambiguation).

John Weaver (July 21, 1673 – September 24, 1760) was a dancer and choreographer and is commonly known as the father of English
, a VTrans engineer who is in charge of several covered bridge projects, said the wooden structures have the advantage of giving signs that they are having trouble before failing, whereas the iron bridges can go all at once, in what is termed "catastrophic failure A catastrophic failure is a sudden and total failure of some system from which recovery is impossible. The affected system not only experiences destruction beyond any reasonable possibility of repair, but also frequently causes injury, death, or significant damage to other, often ."

Financial capability, which may be this year's biggest catastrophic failure, is sure to be argued when the subject of bridges comes up. Zicconi said structural work hasn't fared badly under the Douglas administration and the "Road to Affordability" that now guides VTrans.

Bridge Facts puts it this way: "VTrans bridge budget has increased 29 percent or $14 million during the Douglas administration. In FY03, the last year of the Dean administration, the bridge budget was $47 million. In FY09, the bridge budget is $61 million. Much of the increase is attributed to additional funding for preservation and maintenance activity, largely within the Bridge Maintenance appropriation. This is a new appropriation began in FY06, and now totals $16 million annually or more than 25 percent of the entire bridge budget."

By the numbers, the VTrans bridge appropriation totals were: FY03, $47.4 million; FY04, $56.6 million; FY05, $48.9 million; FY06, $51.7 million; FY07: $70.2 million; FY08, $52.3 million; and FY09, $61.2 million. (The bulge for FY07 came from federal earmarks and the replacement of the Mississquoi Bay Bridge.)

For FY09, the bridge money was divided as follows: Interstate, $4.7 million; State Highway, $21 million; Bridge Maintenance, $15.7 million; and the Town Highway Bridge Program, $19.7 million. (Due to rounding this comes to $61.1 million). Not included is another $3.8 million for the Town Highway Structures grant program.

Zicconi Douglas has proposed two measures that would provide another $25 million a year over the next four years. First, the so-called "raiding" of the transportation tax revenues fund that began about 20 years ago would be cut back $18 million - that is, $4.5 million each year - from its roughly $33 million transfer to the general fund now.

Also, all state fees undergo cost-of-living adjustments every three years - though not all in the same year - and motor vehicle fees are up for revision in the next year, Zicconi said. The last time this was done, it boosted transportation revenues by about $10 million.

Add in $10 million in additional regular appropriations, and there would be "$25 million in additional revenues that we don't have today," Zicconi said. "We. do have a funding gap," he said, and "that would help."

The agency's online FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) A group of commonly asked questions about a subject along with the answers. Vendors often display them on their Web sites for use as troubleshooting guidelines.  (frequently asked questions) about the Road to Affordability puts it this way: "The Agency has $1.5 billion in highway, bridge and culvert projects already identified and under development. At our current pace of spending $60 million annually on roadway projects and $50 million annually on structures like bridges and culverts, it will take about 15 years to complete everything on our hooks. And this does not account for inflation or needs that will surface between now and the year 2022. Vermonters want us to make headway Verb 1. make headway - obtain advantages, such as points, etc.; "The home team was gaining ground"; "After defeating the Knicks, the Blazers pulled ahead of the Lakers in the battle for the number-one playoff berth in the Western Conference"  in the area of repairs and safety improvements to our existing transportation system. To do that, a greater focus on system preservation is needed."

But with the national economy acknowledged to be in a recession that may be slow to turn around, the fight over funding has already begun. The Vermont League of Cities and Towns is trying to rally its members to oppose a proposal by the legislative Joint Fiscal Committee and the Douglas administration to cut nearly $3 million in local highway aid in November.

"The cuts, proposed as part of an $8 million budget rescission The abrogation of a contract, effective from its inception, thereby restoring the parties to the positions they would have occupied if no contract had ever been formed. By Agreement , are poised to take away $1.8 million in Town Highway Aid, $700,000 from Class 2 Paving and Rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy. , and $339,000 from Town Highway Structures," a VLCT VLCT Vermont League of Cities and Towns  letter said. "Cuts to local highway aid programs could equal a property tax increase in many communities."

While this may garner headlines, readers should note that Nov. 30 is the deadline for comments on the VTrans long-range plan, now being formulated. More information can be found at

The other big piece of the picture is federal money, which Zicconi noted comes either through earmarks or with the transportation bill that supposedly gets reenacted every six years. After going through ISTEA ISTEA Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act
ISTEA Initial Screening Training Effectiveness Analysis
 in 1991 (the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (Public Law 102-240; ISTEA, pronounced Ice-Tea) is a United States federal law that posed a major change to transportation planning and policy, as the first U.S. , universally pronounced "ice-tea"), then its 1998 extension TEA-21 (the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
''For the 2005 Transportation Equity Act, see

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) was enacted June 9, 1998, as Public Law 105-178.
, which was debated for two years before passage), the country is now riding along on the omnibus of the 2005 SAFETEA-LU SAFETEA-LU Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users  (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users) an 866-page document involving tens of thousands of programs, intended to cover the period from 2005 to 2009.

With both candidates for the presidency talking about the importance of infrastructure spending as an economic stimulus, there is at least a chance that the federal government will do what Zicconi said it needs to do: "step up to the plate."

Senator. Patrick Leahy's spokesman David Carle said Leahy "believes that the current administration's focus on congestion The condition of a network when there is not enough bandwidth to support the current traffic load.

congestion - When the offered load of a data communication path exceeds the capacity.
 mitigation does not do much to solve the transportation problems facing rural states like Vermont." Money being spent on Iraqi roads and bridges would be better spent at home, partly because such allocations "obviously contribute to the strength of Vermont's businesses and to more jobs and a better economy."

Revitalizing downtown areas should be considered an integral part of this, in Leahy's view. As Carle phrased it, "He believes those investments use our transportation system to draw people and to attract them to Vermont's downtowns, Vermont's businesses and Vermont's products."

Asked whether, in the event of a federal funding surge, Vermont would have enough projects ready to go in the 18-month time frame that federal matching grant matching grant Academia Non-peer-reviewed funding in which a commercial enterprise, foundation, or philanthropy, federal government, contributes a sum of money that 'matches' a financial contribution made by an institution, university or hospital.  programs usually specify, Zicconi said VTrans would do anything necessary to make sure it could take advantage of such money. That would including contracting out work to CDL 1. CDL - Computer Definition anguage. A hardware description language. "Computer Organisation and Microprogramming", Yaohan Chu, P-H 1970.
2. CDL - Command Definition Language. Portion of ICES used to implement commands. Sammet 1969, p.618-620.
 Engineers or Stantech or other firms they have worked with.

"We would welcome the challenge," he said.

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Author:Ed Barna
Publication:Vermont Business Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2008
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