A very concerning note landed in the Selectboard email inbox yesterday. On Monday, bridge inspectors from VTrans recommended the closure of the Rabbit Hollow Bridge. From the date-stamp on the photos in the report, it seems like this recommendation came immediately after inspection. The report and accompanying photos are pretty grim. (Click here to read the report.)
**The northern floorsystem has been compromised, as all of the steel stringer ends are more or less unsupported due to extensive bearing pedestal deterioration. The I-beam pedestals below each of the seven (7) stringer ends at abutment #2 have failed. All have heavy corrosion and extreme distortion from buckling. The end of the deck and floorsystem at the northern abutment is now basically cantilevered off from the last floorbeam, which is roughly fifteen (15) feet to the south of the bridge end. Under light loading, the wood plank deck defects significantly and the interior stringers have dropped away from the deck interface. The now “floating” stringers are also subject to significant distortional and rotational forces, as they lack lateral restraint.
Fortunately, the Railroad owns the bridge, so it seems that Northfield residents won’t bear the cost of repairs or replacement. Moving forward, the Town, VTrans, and Railroad will have to communicate and determine a repair/replacement schedule.
In the meantime, here are some pictures of the Rabbit Hollow Bridge on BridgeHunter.com. Photo Credits go to Michael Quiet, who says, “Despite its small size and rusted appearance, the bridge is significant to our transportation heritage as an early and unaltered example of its type.” Thanks, Michael!