Work on Brookfield floating bridge underway - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Work on Brookfield floating bridge underway

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Only a few dozen people live in the village of Brookfield, Vermont, but a historic landmark attracts a whole lot more.

"The bridge is almost a hidden secret," said Richard Fink, the owner of Ariel's restaurant.

The bridge is one of two floating bridges left in the country. It cuts across Sunset Lake and connects traffic to Route 65 in Brookfield.

For the Fink's, who have owned Ariel's restaurant on the lake for 17 years, the bridge is something to be proud of.

"There's always been this joy about traveling across the bridge because it usually gains a little bit of water and the water sprays up on the sides. It's a big deal in the summer, and people fish off it. It's been a wonderful thing to have in the neighborhood," said Fink.

But the bridge has been closed for the past six years due to serious maintenance issues and it’s had a negative impact on the town. Fink says that he's lost some business.

"Having a dead structure in the middle of town is not a good thing period," said Fink.

The bridge was being supported by foam pieces and after years of use they were absorbing all the water, almost like a sponge, causing the bridge to sink.

A $2.4 million bid from an independent construction company got the ball rolling to fix it.

"The design team has been using some state-of-the-art technology to redesign the bridge," said Sandy Schmitt of the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

VTrans says the bridge will still be supported by foam, but it will be encased in a new type of plastic that has a life span of 100 years.

"So on the other side today they plan on pulling these abutment pieces out and they're gonna pull the bridge up onto the mainland and start disassembling it," said Schmitt.

VTrans also says that keeping the historic appearance of the bridge was key. It will still be made mostly out of wood, but with a few extra improvements.

"The bridge is gonna look pretty much the same, it’s gonna be 2 feet wider with 5-foot sidewalks," said Schmitt.

"People will GPS getting to the restaurant. And a lot of the times the GPS will send them to the other side of the bridge and if they're not from the area they'll kind of get trapped on the other side of the bridge and we'll wave at them," said Fink.

Fink hopes the bridge will help get his customers back on the right track.

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