Freedom – February 25, 2011 – It won’t likely be soon, but Freedom’s deteriorating bridge over Danforth Brook on the Ossipee Lake Road appears to be on a path to be replaced. This week the town’s Board of Selectmen reviewed the options presented by an engineering firm and agreed with their recommendation to replace rather than repair the span. Voters approved the engineering study last year.
The Board said it plans to apply for state assistance. If approved, the state would pay 80% of the estimated $500,000 cost and the town would cover the rest after voters agree.
The bridge was built in 1925 and is well over its expected life of 50 years. The timing of its replacement is unknown, however. Like many states, New Hampshire has a growing list of urgently needed infrastructure improvements at a time of limited funds and legislative cuts.
Competing for bridge repair funds are the spans on the N.H. Bridge Maintenance Bureau’s “Red List,” which are structures requiring regular inspections “due to known deficiencies, poor conditions, weight restrictions, or type of construction.”
At the start of 2010 there were 142 state-owned spans on the list, including the Bearcamp River Bridge on Route 113 in Tamworth. But state-owned spans are just part of what’s on the Red List. As of August 2008, the last online accounting by the Bridge Maintenance Bureau, there were 507 bridges on the list, 370 of which were municipally-owned.
Although badly deteriorated, the Danforth Brook Bridge is not on the state’s Red List and officials say it is safe. A load limit restriction is possible, however, as a near-term method of extending the span’s life until funding to replace it falls into place.