20191107-LOC-Bridge

One of the two Route 119 bridges connecting Brattleboro and Hinsdale, shown here in a file photo, links Brattleboro to the west side of the island on the Connecticut River.

HINSDALE — A long-awaited project to build a new bridge over the Connecticut River between Hinsdale and Brattleboro will receive a $12 million federal grant, according to a news release from U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office Wednesday.

Fellow New Hampshire Democrats U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster and U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan were also involved in securing the funding.

The new bridge will replace the old red-listed double truss bridges that flank Hinsdale Island and carry Route 119 over the river.

According to the N.H. Department of Transportation, the total cost of the project will be $40 million, split between federal funds and the states of Vermont and New Hampshire.

N.H. DOT estimates construction will begin next August, and for the new bridge to be open for traffic in 2023.

A Shaheen spokesman confirmed the newly announced funding will keep the project timeline on track for 2023.

“[The select board] is very happy. I believe the money was expected, but we are very happy that it’s coming and going toward this project," said Selectman Steve Diorio Thursday morning.

Plans call for the existing Anna Hunt Marsh and Charles Dana bridges to be rehabilitated for pedestrians after the new bypass bridge is erected and opened.

The grant comes as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2019 Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD 2019) program.

The funding source was previously known as a TIGER grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery).

In a July letter to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao, Shaheen cited the broader economic importance of the bridges.

“This crossing is critical for the movement of goods and people locally, regionally and internationally,” Shaheen wrote. “It carries the vital highway NH Route 119, which connects Cheshire County and the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire to the international trade corridor of Interstate 91 in Vermont, which then connects the region to the Canadian trade market to the north and the larger New England ports to the south.

“Without these bridges,” Shaheen continues, “the closest crossing requires a 16.9-mile detour to the north through Chesterfield or a 19-mile detour to the south through Massachusetts.”

Shaheen spoke with Chao about the grant Wednesday afternoon, according to a spokesman.

In Wednesday’s news release, Kuster and Hassan touted the federal funding.

“This critical $12 million grant to build a new bridge across the Connecticut River will make a significant difference for Granite Staters, improving the connectivity, economic vitality, and quality of life in the region,” Hassan said.

Plans to replace the bridges have been part of New Hampshire’s 10-year transportation plan since 1994, with several delays following suit. The project was omitted completely from the 2013-22 plan due to lack of funding before landing back in the 2015-24 plan.

Jake Lahut can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or jlahut@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @JakeLahut.