Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Loon Mountain Bridge Public Input Session #1 Recap

HEB and the Town of Lincoln held a public meeting on Monday, February 13, 2012 to discuss the history and project status of the Loon Mountain Bridge, and receive public input.  Chris Fournier, P.E., HEB project manager, presented several rehabilitation alternatives and took questions from the audience.  Presentation documents: agenda, bridge profile, bridge plan

Questions raised during the meeting and HEB's responses are outlined below:

Q1: Does the FEMA and NHDOT funding vary when considering the rehabilitation versus replacement alternatives?
A1: Yes, it may.  It gets complicated.  The FEMA Public Assistance program provides 75% reimbursement for all costs to repair the damage “in-kind” (meaning back to the way it was).  The FEMA Public Assistance Hazard Mitigation program provide 75% reimbursement to fund the improvement of the repairs to mitigate future hazards.  This funding mechanism generally is limited at a match of the initial Public Assistance funding; however, there is an opportunity to exceed this limit by proving that the benefits outweigh the costs.  Benefits in this case are calculated using a FEMA application that considers past damage, loss of business if the bridge is closed, as well as the detour efforts.  The NHDOT State Aid Bridge (SAB) program has committed to reimburse 80% of the costs remaining after FEMA has paid their portion.  Ideally this would leave the Town with a 5% share of the total project cost.

Q2: Would the lane configuration of the current bridge (3 lanes and one sidewalk) be the same for the new bridge alternate?
A2: Yes. No one has expressed interest in any other configuration; therefore the study is moving forward assuming the existing lane configuration.

Q3: Was a downstream location considered for the new bridge alternate?
A3: Yes, both an upstream and downstream location have been considered and have been ruled out at this point for a variety of reasons.  The preferred relocation for the new bridge, if this alternative is selected, is directly adjacent to the existing bridge.

Q4: Does the new bridge alternate consider raising the bridge to alleviate issues with high water?
A4: No, during Tropical Storm Irene the water was reported to be only within 5 feet of the existing bridge structure.  The bridge failure occurred because of scouring beneath the north abutment.  In addition, the approaches on either end of the bridge are very close to the bridge and do not facilitate much elevation change.

Q5: Is it true that the NHDOT prefers that a new bridge be built?
A5: No, NHDOT requested that the new bridge alternate be studied to determine whether a new bridge would be more cost effective than rehabilitating the existing bridge.

Q6: Will the utilities be relocated beneath the bridge as they were prior to the storm?
A6: Yes, all alternatives consider relocating the utilities beneath the bridge structure.

Q7: What is the condition of the remaining portion of the existing bridge?  What repairs need to be made?
A7: The existing bridge spans are in good condition.  However, we recommend repairs be made.  The expansion joints between the spans have failed and caused water damage.  The repairs would include replacing the expansion joints; replacing some bearings; replacing some diaphragms; repainting a portion of the steel beams; and concrete deck repairs as needed.

Q8: Why is the Town voting on funding the project at this Town meeting and not the next Town meeting (2013) if the engineering study isn’t complete and construction isn’t starting until spring 2013?
A8: If a bridge rehabilitation alternate is selected, the new steel beams will take 4-5 months from order to delivery.  In order to be ready to construct in the spring, the beams must be ordered during the winter and consequently the contract must be signed with the bridge contractor before that point.  The Town must appropriate the funds for construction prior to signing a contract (December 2012).