A bridge on Kimball Avenue – at the border of South Burlington and Williston – is closed indefinitely following an Oct. 31 storm that brought heavy rains to the region.
“It’s a dangerous situation,” City Manager Kevin Dorn said. “We don’t even want people walking across it.”
The bridge, located on Kimball and Marshall Avenues, was initially damaged two years ago during a storm event. It was replaced with a temporary bridge on loan to Williston and South Burlington from the state, while the two towns worked out funding for a replacement structure. That replacement was anticipated to run about $2 million, with costs to be split between Williston and South Burlington and work to begin in 2022. The two towns planned to try and defray the cost with grants, Dorn said. However, last week’s damage means that process will have to be expedited, and it is hard to say whether it will impact project costs.
“The erosion that was caused by this event is extreme,” Dorn said.
“It’s pretty startling,” Council Chair Helen Riehle said.
According to Dorn, some funding is available in the South Burlington Capital Improvement Plan, but Williston might have a challenging time coming up with its share of the cost.
South Burlington Public Works Director Justin Rabidoux and his team will meet with the state on Nov. 12 to discuss emergency funding, Dorn said.
For now, the city is requiring both motorists and pedestrians to seek an alternative route.
“There’s definitely a heck of a traffic impact,” councilor David Kaufman said. “Traffic was backed up from the intersection of Industrial Avenue and Route 2 ... all the way to South Brownell Road.”
Dorn said the state is working on the traffic issue. Those efforts may include synchronizing traffic signals in Williston and South Burlington to try and alleviate added pressure on Williston Road. Temporary traffic lights may be another solution.
“VTrans is very much on top of this,” Dorn said.
Councilor Meaghan Emery suggested this may be an opportunity for residents to pursue other forms of transportation including carpooling and public transportation. She suggests motorists check out VTrans' "Go! Vermont" website for information on local transportation options, www.connectingcommuters.org.
Councilor Tim Barritt suggested the city notify Google Maps to mark the bridge as closed so that the navigation app can reroute drivers.
The temporary bridge will likely not reopen, but rather, a new replacement bridge installed on a faster timeline than the original 2022 schedule.