Work is nearly complete on the installation of a temporary bridge to reconnect Cornwall and Salisbury, Vermont, following the destruction of an iconic wooden covered bridge more than three months ago.
On September 10, a giant fireball swallowed the landmark Station Covered Bridge, limiting Swamp Road in Salisbury and Creek Road in Cornwall to only local travel.
The closure was an inconvenience to many drivers who have had to seek detours through Whiting, Leicester, or Middlebury.
By the end of this week, town leaders expect the temporary span to once again enable travel over the Otter Creek at the crossing.
“It's too bad that had happened, but our main goal is to open this road up for the public,” said Hobie Gates of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, who was overseeing the installation of the temporary bridge Tuesday.
Investigators were not able to pinpoint a specific cause of that fire, but they found no evidence of an accelerate, meaning, no evidence the fire was an intentional, criminal act. There was no lightning in the sky or power lines to the bridge, fire officials noted at the time of the blaze.
The 1865 wooden structure over the Otter Creek was largely rebuilt nearly 10 years ago using a federal grant.
According to tallies from covered bridge enthusiasts, Vermont had 107 covered bridges before the fire that destroyed the Station Covered Bridge. The Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing said that number represents more covered bridges per square mile than any other state in the country.
Ben Marks, the co-chair of the Cornwall Select Board, told necn an insurance settlement helped demolish what little was left of the bridge, and is funding the state’s installation of a temporary one-lane span.
“This bridge is going to be a huge help,” Marks said of the temporary bridge.
Marks said many drivers are excited to soon see their detours come to end, adding the development will buy the towns time to work on a permanent fix.
“At the moment, I'm hearing a lot from people who want to see a covered bridge of the same type put back,” Marks said. “And we'll have to see what budget constraints and grant constraints allow.”
Marks said he expects robust debates on both sides of the Otter Creek about the cost and design of an eventual replacement bridge.