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The north section (left) of the new Lilac Bridge in Hooksett doesn't match the other two. The steel members are thinner, and the diagonal struts are oriented in the opposite direction. (MELISSA PROULX/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

Hooksett: Lilac Bridge construction halts after officials notice one span is different from the other

HOOKSETT — Work on the new pedestrian bridge in town is stopped after officials noticed a glaring problem: one of the three segments doesn’t match the others.

The northern span of the new Lilac Bridge doesn’t match the other two. The steel members are smaller and the diagonal struts go in the opposite direction of those in the other two spans. There also appears to be a height difference between the spans.

“I think this looks ridiculous,” said Town Administrator Dean Shankle. “This is just stupid.”

The new footbridge will span the Merrimack River and mirror the shape of the former Lilac Bridge. It will connect Merrimack Street to Riverside Drive near Robie’s Country Store. In all, the entire project is expected to cost about $3.3 million.

Shankle said he has been in touch with the engineering company — Dubois & King, Inc. of Laconia — about the issue. He said they told him that the span, which is the shortest of the three, was built according to standard process.

“I can’t believe that they think that’s OK and they’re trying to argue that’s OK,” Shankle said.

A call to Bob Durfee, the project manager, was not immediately returned.

Shankle said town officials have also been in touch with the design firm, which offered the same response as the engineering firm.

Town councilors, who were informed of the situation at their meeting last week, were bewildered.

“The fact that they went forward with it is just astounding to me,” said Councilor David Ross.

All said something should be done to fix it.

“We don’t want the bridge to be a trivia question for the next 100 years,” said Councilor Marc Miville.

Councilors gave Shankle the go-ahead to pursue legal action.

“One way or another its going to be fixed,” Shankle said.

The situation will delay the planned December opening of the bridge.

There are also some concerns about the causeway built in the Merrimack River to help with the construction of the new bridge. Shankle said it was built larger than permitted and a report about it has been made against the town to the Attorney General’s office.

An update on the issues will be discussed at the Oct. 25 Town Council meeting.

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