Contractors hired by the city are in the midst of building a new bridge on Grout Road at a much higher cost than originally expected, an expense that adversely impacted this year’s overall city paving plans at a time when some roads are in poor shape. The bridge work serving Grout Road, a short street off Elm Street that serves three houses, is about one-third complete, according to Zach Blodgett, assistant director of Montpelier’s Department of Public Works.
An engineer’s estimate of the Grout Road bridge project was far lower than the winning bid of $921,000, which the city was able to whittle down to around $860,000, Blodgett said. However, the higher bridge cost meant money had to be shifted within the city’s capital fund, which pays for things such as bridges, paving, and equipment. Among other things, that reduced this year’s paving budget to $118,000, one of the lowest levels in recent years, he said.
Last year, with ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) federal money, the city was able to spend around $1 million on paving projects, a level Blodgett would like to reach again next year. Typically, the city spends around $750,000 a year on paving, he said. Blodgett noted that U.S. routes 2 and 302 in Montpelier are being repaved this summer, with that work largely paid for by the state.
Blodgett also noted the city recently received a $25,000 municipal planning grant to conduct an inventory of Montpelier’s road network that will be used to plan future road projects. The results could be available by this fall, he said.
In addition to the Grout Road bridge, Blodgett said the city owns two other dead-end bridges, both of which have been rebuilt within the past decade. One serves five houses on Haggett Road, while the other serves several houses and an apartment complex on Cummings Street. Blodgett speculated that the dead-end bridges may have been private at one time, but were wiped out in the 1927 flood, rebuilt by the state, and then turned over to the city. The city currently owns or maintains a total of 15 vehicular bridges, he said.