Sandown Town Hall sent out this bulletin today:
Per order of the NH Department of Transportation, the Phillips Road Bridge is now CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Please seek alternate routes.
During a particularly pleasant kayak excursion this morning on Lily Pond*, I actually saw and conversed with the Department of Transportation fellows inspecting the bridge. One intrepid man donned rubber waders practically up to his neck. Holding a hammer, he walked down the steep embankment, through the thick growth at the shore, into the woody shrubs at the water’s edge, and finally into the Exeter River. There, he walked carefully over slippery rocks and climbed over the beaver dam that nearly didn’t hold him to the underside of the bridge. Then he began banging on the metal parts.
It seemed a primitive procedure, but an effective one. He drew a tape measure out of his chest pocket and pressed it from the outside edge of the metal to the spot where he left his hammer. Then again from his chest pocket, he fished out a digital camera and took photos of his hammer and other areas of interest.
Even to a casual observer from the comfort of a kayak, the bridge looks in need of repair. The metal forming the arch is extensively rusted where it meets a strong concrete foundation. The rocks and earth the metal supports seem to be seeping out at the sides. The road surface, however, is in very good shape especially in contrast with Fremont Road in that area.
A few Deliberative sessions ago (was it 2013?) a bridge engineer attended our meeting to explain the structural issues with that bridge. It’s not all that old (though old is relative to planned life expectancy) but many bridges of that design were constructed in New Hampshire around the same time, I recall him saying, and they are all in various stages of decline (unless remediated).
Who knew bridge design has fads – not unlike education?
*An earlier version of this post said Phillips Pond when I was obviously on Lily Pond. The two ponds do connect but that takes more effort than I have.