Law enforcement and public works departments in Vermont are asking drivers, especially of commercial trucks or large vehicles such as campers, to take extra care around the state’s famous covered bridges.
The renewed plea follows a series of costly crashes this year.
“They need to pay attention to the signs, and they need to slow down as they come into [covered bridges],” said Randall Hoyt, a post and beam contractor making repairs to the Flint Covered Bridge in Tunbridge Monday. “It’s a lot of common sense.”
Hoyt and two other workers were removing broken timbers from the 1845 bridge and shoring up the entrance, in order to reopen the span while additional repairs are planned.
Vermont State Police say a New York driver in a commercial truck too tall and too heavy for the bridge was also going too fast when he crashed into it last week.
Vermont has the densest concentration of covered bridges of any state—more than 100, scattered from the Massachusetts to Canadian borders.
They keep traveler Diane DeMelo from Taunton, Massachusetts, busy photographing them on her vacations to Vermont.
“You just stand there and you’re mesmerized,” DeMelo said in June, when necn met her photographing the Grist Mill Covered Bridge in Jeffersonville. “I’m an old soul, so I think it transforms me to a time when life was simpler.”
This year has been a rough one for the landmarks.
In May, a delivery driver police said was slavishly following GPS directions was caught on surveillance video badly damaging the Miller’s Run Bridge In Lyndon.
That same month in Woodstock, oversized loads hit two of the town’s covered bridges: the Taftsville Bridge and the Lincoln Bridge.
Damage from a large air conditioning unit in the back of a truck hitting the Taftsville bridge was comparatively easy to address, Woodstock Police Chief Robbie Blish said Monday, but the Lincoln bridge is still shut down, with a complicated repair project the chief expected to exceed $365,000.
Blish said a driver was hauling an excavator, a piece of construction equipment just too tall for the bridge, but he didn’t stop—taking out support beams down the full length of the bridge.
“Drivers need to be aware,” Blish said.
The Woodstock Police Department, whose logo depicts the village’s famous Middle Bridge, wants drivers to be mindful of vehicle and cargo heights and weights, and to watch all signage, Blish said.
“We like to, as a state as a whole and certainly Woodstock—we take pride in the bridges, and we try to maintain them,” Blish said. “And part of that maintenance is making sure people don’t do unwise things.”
Back at the scene of the latest covered bridge crash, Hoyt said he hopes truckers in particular are more careful around these iconic features on the Vermont landscape.
“I love them myself,” Hoyt said of covered bridges.
The drivers in the Woodstock, Lyndon, and Tunbridge cases were each ticketed for various offenses, according to law enforcement covering the three communities.