October 22, 2014

Selectboard shelves bridge weight limit removal

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By Ben Moger-Williams
Observer staff

The North Williston Road bridge will continue to have a 24,000-pound weight limit imposed on it, the Selectboard decided Monday. A motion to lift the restriction was not seconded and the issue died. For the moment.

Gary Grzywna, owner of Grzywna Construction Inc., sent a memo to Public Works Director Neil Boyden and the Selectboard in February, asking them to lift the restriction on the bridge, which crosses the Winooski River into Essex from Williston. Grzywna said the closure of the bridges in Richmond make it extremely inconvenient for him to get across the river and is hurting his business. However, residents say lifting the restriction would cause a large increase in truck traffic, disrupting the neighborhood, possibly damaging historic homes in the area, and causing safety hazards for children and bikers.

After a public hearing last month, the board looked into a conducting a study prior to making a decision on the bridge. However, some members thought it was not worth it.

“I have reservations about spending money on a study because my fear is that the study would come back and say the bridge is fine for trucks and we’d be back where we are now,” said board member Judy Sassorossi. McGuire said the study would likely cost the town $5,000-$6,000.

After some discussion, Selectman Andy Mikell made a motion to remove the weight restriction temporarily and revisit the issue in nine months. But the other board members kept silent and the motion died.

The board’s inaction appeared to irk Grzywna, who was present in the audience.

“Out of two million people I’ve talked to in Montpelier, Mr. Mikell is the only one who’s stepped up to the plate and tried to deal with this issue,” Grzywna said before leaving the room.

McGuire said the issue is dead for now.

“Never say never,” he said. “But for the moment that’s the end of it.”

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