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Existing Conditions of the Bridge

The Burlington Winooski Bridge, originally constructed in 1928, is reaching the end of its service life. The three span, steel girder structure features narrow travel lanes and narrow sidewalks that no longer meet the needs of the growing multi modal community. Recognizing the changed multi modal traffic volume since original construction and upcoming maintenance needs of the structure, an alternatives evaluation was commissioned between 2017 and 2019 to identify a path forward.

Through a robust evaluation of alternatives, a decision was made to replace the bridge. This decision was made with an understanding of the current bridge condition, its safety, and the time necessary to develop and construct the replacement bridge.

VTrans routinely inspects the bridge in accordance with the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) to ensure continued safety for users of the bridge. While the new bridge is being designed and constructed, the current bridge will continue to be inspected. Based on a 0 - 9 numeric rating scale, the 2023 bridge inspection of the Burlington Winooski bridge resulted in the following condition ratings:

  • Deck Rating: 5 (Fair Condition)

  • Superstructure Rating: 6 (Satisfactory Condition)

  • Substructure Rating: 7 (Good Condition)

The inspection report indicates that the Burlington Winooski bridge is structurally safe and poses no threat to the traveling public. In addition to the inspection report, a capacity (load rating) evaluation has occurred and indicates the bridge is structurally capable to support modern vehicle loads. However, due to the age of the structure, maintenance/rehabilitation needs, and narrow bridge width that no longer meets the needs of the community, a plan to replace the bridge is moving forward.

A wide city street with multiple lanes, bordered by a clean sidewalk and a concrete barrier. Buildings and trees line the street, and street lamps are installed along the sidewalk. The partly cloudy sky adds to the urban scene.

View of the top portion of the existing bridge (2023).

A concrete and steel bridge over a body of water, with the underside of the bridge and its support pillars visible. Buildings are faintly visible in the background under a clear sky.

View of the underneath portion of the existing bridge (2023).

History of this Crossing

A bridge spanning the Winooski River at this site has linked the communities of Burlington and Winooski for over 200 years, predating the establishment of the City of Winooski. Multiple bridges at this location have served the needs of local residents by adapting to changing transportation modes over the years. In the late 1800s, the bridge featured a two-lane design intended for horse drawn carriages, accompanied by two separated pedestrian footpaths. This bridge was later replaced by a two span truss bridge, featuring two pedestrian sidewalks and a shared travel way that accommodated trolleys and vehicles, reflecting the increased use of automobiles and rail transit in the early 20th century. Subsequently, in 1928, the current bridge we see today was constructed to support a trolley line, two lanes of vehicles, and sidewalks. As trolley use declined and the popularity of personal vehicles increased, the trolley tracks were removed, and the bridge was repurposed to support four lanes of vehicle traffic.

Further information on the history of the crossing and the surrounding area is presented in the April 9, 2024, Historic Resources Identification Report found here.  The following images are housed at the University of Vermont Libraries Digital Collection.

A historical photograph capturing individuals on and around a metal bridge over a river, surrounded by lush greenery.

1. In 1928, construction on the new Burlington Winooski bridge began. Construction workers can be seen on the steel beams (McAllister, 1928).

A historical black and white photo capturing the official opening of a bridge between Burlington and Winooski on August 3, 1928, with people gathered around and a large building in the background.

2. The reopening of the bridge was a big event for the two cities. Marching bands played on both sides of the bridge to celebrate reopening such a vital connection between Burlington and Winooski (McAllister, 1928).

A historical photograph from October 21, 1949, showing a street scene. An old-fashioned car is parked on the left side of the image near a light pole. Two individuals stand in front of a store. The street appears to be under construction or repair, as it is not paved. Buildings line both sides of the street, which seems to be a mix of residential and commercial areas.

3. October 1929. View from Colchester Avenue near Barrett Street, looking at the bridge over to Winooski (McAllister, 1929).

A historical photo of an old bridge with a vintage car, pedestrians, street lamps, and distant buildings. The bridge features ornate street lamps and concrete railings. A vintage car is parked on the left side of the bridge. Pedestrians are visible on the bridge. The road marking indicates two lanes. In the background, houses and trees on a hill create a suburban or small-town atmosphere.

4. 1945. View toward Burlington Avenue and Colchester Avenue. Trucks and workers are completing repairs on the bridge (McAllister, 1945).

Photo credits:

1. McAllister, L. L. (1928). Winooski Bridge Construction [Photograph]. University of Vermont Libraries. Special Collections.

2. McAllister, L. L. (1928). Winooski Bridge Opening Ceremonies [Photograph]. University of Vermont Libraries. Special Collections.

3. McAllister, L. L. (1929). Winooski [Photograph]. University of Vermont Libraries. Special Collections.

4. McAllister, L. L. (1945). Winooski Bridge Repair [Photograph]. University of Vermont Libraries. Special Collections.