Home News and Features Rialto Bridge Scheduled To Be Rehabilitated In 2029

Rialto Bridge Scheduled To Be Rehabilitated In 2029

Trusses from the Langdon Street Bridge being retrieved from the North Branch using equipment on the Rialto Bridge after the 1927 flood. Courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) has scheduled the Rialto Bridge on State Street in Montpelier for reconstruction five years from now, in 2029, with most of the cost borne by the federal and state governments. The city will be expected to pay between 2.5% and 10% of what will likely be a costly and complicated project that could include closing State Street for an extensive period of time.

The Rialto Bridge is located between Capitol Grounds and the North Branch Café. Across the street, the Rialto Building sits directly on the bridge. It has offices upstairs and storefronts at street level, which are currently or have in the recent past been occupied by Chill, Wilaiwan’s Kitchen, and Rebel Heart. There have been rumors that the bridge’s condition is deteriorating.

Project manager for AOT, Laura Stone, recently sent the following statement to the Montpelier Department of Public Works:

“We are in the process of getting a consultant on board for the scoping and design. This is in the budget for construction in 2029, and based on the historic nature of the structure, this will likely be a rehabilitation, to be determined in the scoping phase. While the bridge is located on U.S. Route 2, it is within a Class 1 Town Highway segment and is owned and maintained by the city of Montpelier. The project is part of the Town Highway Bridge Program and will be 80% federally funded, 10% state funded, and 10% town funded. There is an opportunity for the town share to be reduced to 5% or 2.5% per Act 153 of the 2012 legislative session.”

According to that act, the city’s share of replacement bridge costs can be reduced from 10% to 5% if, during construction, “the municipality closes the bridge and does not construct a temporary bridge for the duration of the project.”

If the project is considered “rehabilitation” of an existing bridge — which sounds likely — the city share can be reduced to 5% if the road is kept open, or 2.5% if the city closes the bridge and does not construct a temporary bridge. State law also allows the legislature to authorize a different federal/state/local funding match.

Closure of the bridge, while financially advantageous, would create traffic issues and disrupt downtown commerce for a considerable period of time.