When you walk across the bridge to Hinsdale you feel the bridge vibrating underfoot. It is a sustained motion, that combined with the obviously “insufficient weight limits” might give the pedestrian pause to be concerned in what is an otherwise peaceful, scenic river view.
What the long-term overweight loads and steady shaking does to the bridge structure is another matter.
Even if you didn’t know the age of the nearly one hundred year old Anna Hunt Marsh Bridge that connects Brattleboro to New Hampshire you’d have to be blind not to see that it is “functionally obsolete.” Both the Anna Hunt Marsh and Charles Dana, Pennsylvania truss bridges, built in 1921, were built to handle weight loads that were far less than multiple fully loaded 60 foot tractor-trailers weighing 80,000 pounds or more each.
On either end of the Anna Hunt Marsh Bridge are pylons giving grounded support. The problem is the bridge is the length of a football field! Spanning the Connecticut River at 300 feet, there is no additional support underneath of the bridge.
Some of us pedestrians and drivers, not being bridge engineers, may be alarmed about the safety of the bridge, although I think recent news stories about citizen and agency concerns indicate growing unease about the current state of the bridge structure.
One obvious solution for safety is to establish what the accurate and bearable combined weight load is for today’s world of vehicular traffic. Equally obvious is that a lowered permissible weight load will likely affect local truck deliveries for businesses on both sides of the Connecticut River.
The fact that a fairly recent plan proposal includes renovating the bridge for pedestrian and bicycle traffic is what was needed years ago. It’s understood that any new bridge construction is millions of dollars and probably ten years away.
Is there time to design, approve and implement new bridge construction before a potential collapse occurs? With no convenient alternative that roundtrip Brattleboro to Hinsdale traffic can use, there’s only one way to find out.