The Representative Town Meeting has authorized an agreement with the state to begin repairs to the Valley Road bridge, although two members weren't ready to make the crossing.

Ellen Jacob, R-9, and Gaylord Meyer, R-1, voted against the resolution Monday that would start the engineering phase for the bridge over Horse Tavern Brook, which the state has rated as "poor."

Jacob cited language in the contract that allows the state to cancel the agreement at anytime.

"That doesn't sound like a good deal for us," she said.

With the authorization, the town will have to pay 20 percent of the estimated $1.84 million total cost to engineer, design and construct a new bridge, with the rest paid by the state through reimbursement.

But Jacobs said the town already has bonding planned for window repairs at two schools and a new roof at Fairfield Warde High School.

"That's estimated to be $25 million," she said. "That's a big chunk of our budget."

Jacobs suggested that the bridge project could be postponed.

"My recommendation is we move on it," Public Works Director Richard White said. He said the state has an effective program evaluating the safety of bridges.

When bridges start to deteriorate, he said, abutments get undermined, stress cracks appear and "things start to accumulate after a certain point."

White said that, in his opinion, it is "very prudent" to move forward to replace a bridge when it has been rated "poor."

Jeffrey Steele, who stepped aside briefly from his role as RTM moderator to voice his opinion, said he didn't believe when considering recommendations regarding the town's infrastructure that the RTM should be debating when work should done or if it needs to be done at all.

Since the town expects to be reimbursed for 80 percent of the costs, he said, "I don't see what postponing this is going to do."

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