Footbridge ramp approved

WILMINGTON — With an eye to minimizing potential flood damage, a design for a ramp on the downtown footbridge has gotten the OK from the Development Review Board.

"We originally started this back in June of 2016 and the board finally closed it on March 20," Zoning Administrator Craig Ohlson said. "The decision came out three days later. So the case took forever but the decision only took a few days to finalize."

Local, state and federal guidelines were taken into account. Wilmington's zoning ordinance requires development in the historic district to anchor construction to prevent movement, collapse or flotation in the event of a flood. So does the National Flood Insurance Program.

The bridge crosses the Deerfield River and is called Reardon's Crossing. It was donated to the town by Barry Reardon after construction in 2013. Concerns from the Agency of Natural Resources around flooding risks prompted the town to raise the bridge in 2015.

The town has wanted to make is easier for bikes and strollers to travel the bridge, which leads to the Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail.

"To be 'reasonably safe from flooding' a 'flow-through design' is recommended by John Broker-Campbell of the Agency of Natural Resources," the Development Review Board wrote in its decision approving the project, adding that the ramp will be made of a "material resistant to flood damage," and metal and wood. "Railings will be made of metal, walkways and support structures will be made of wood. The wooden walkway will match the type of wood used on the bridge walkway. The support structure will be made of 8x8 pressure treated wooden posts. Walkway support beams shall be 2x10 pressure treated lumber."

With the design, the ramp is expected to stay anchored during a flood. That will be done by "securing pressure treated 8x8 support beams with metal brackets to cement foundations sunk to a minimum depth of 5 feet or until ledge is encountered," according to the decision.

The ramp will not meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, the DRB wrote, as a "lengthier slope" would be needed.

"It isn't handicap accessible per say in the strictest sense of the word but obviously it's going to be far more accessible than the existing steps," Ohlson said. "I think motorized wheelchairs will be fine."

The town agreed to relocate a proposed sidewalk "to meet the ingress/egress point of the ramp," according to the decision. Construction for West Main Street sidewalks began this week.

The support structure of the ramp will be "painted green to match the bridge support structures," according to the decision.

Asked about a timeline for ramp construction, Ohlson said, "I don't know if anyone knows."

The town will put the project out to bid. Talks should start soon.

"We need to figure it out ASAP," said Ohlson, who did not have a ballpark estimate.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.


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