HIGHGATE — The proposal to replace the bridge on Machia Road is making headway, said Town Administrator Heidi Britch-Valenta during the Highgate selectboard meeting Thursday night.

The existing structure was closed indefinitely Monday morning due to safety concerns about the bridge’s failing abutments.

Inspectors from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) sent a letter to the town stating an abutment had rusted through completely and “only what is left of the decayed clip angle is supporting it from dropping.”

However, the closure was months of ahead of schedule; VTrans had planned on funneling traffic through the existing bridge while construction was underway on its replacement. VTrans initially only anticipated closures of a short duration while major construction activities occurred.

Thursday night, Britch-Valenta said, “the project is moving forward.”

“There’s not much physical evidence of that,” joked Bruce Butler, a selectboard member.

“You have to believe, Bruce,” said Britch-Valenta. “It’s all about believing.” She said VTrans presented the project to the town’s Development Review Board (DRB) this month.

The existing steel truss bridge, owned and operated by the town, was built in 1928. According to VTrans, the bridge is structurally deficient, too narrow and has substandard railings and alignments. The east abutment was also showing signs of movement and the west abutment signs of undermining.

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