As you can see, our bridge was washed out during the winter storms. Not entirely washed out, but undermined on the far end. The I-beams no longer reach the far bank. There is a 3-foot gap which the Ford tractor can not jump.
I got a consult from a local contractor who said it was a straightforward repair. He thought we could just jack it back up, add two I-beams to reach the far bank, and put in some cement blocks at low water in August to support the necessary extension. Around a $7000 job that he could do in two days.
But…he felt uncomfortable repairing it without a wetlands permit and an engineering OK. I explained that this bridge had been there for 60 years, and another bridge there for over 100 years before that, and that we had fixed it in the past without permits. He said I needed to consult an engineering firm to do the permitting and to ok his plan.
That has to be wrong, but instead of finding somebody else to consider the job, I did consult with a reputable local engineering firm. They inspected, and came back with an estimate of $27,000 for permitting and design, not including the actual repair. They said the permitting could take as much as two years, starting with the Army Corps of Engineers and ending with the Massachusetts Wetland Authority and the State and local DEP. Many hearings to be attended, apparently, by certified engineers. No guarantee, he said, that we could get a bridge repair permit in the end because the State wants “wild rivers.” Mind you, this stream is in no way “navigable” except on barefoot, and is only as “wild” as a stream can be which winds through cow pastures and corn fields.
The tyrant comes to you with a permit in his hand.