Roads & Bridges
Town residents petitioned their select boards for roads and bridges. If selectmen turned them down, they could petition the court to appoint a commission. These men would survey the route, advise the court on the need for a road, judge whether the route should be altered, and assess costs among the towns that would benefit. Towns often disagreed, requiring the court resolve matters. Disputes over discontinuing a road might also wind up in court.
In 1809 the Passumpsick Turnpike Company petitioned the supreme court to have its 6.5-mile road inspected so that it could open for traffic. Commissioners were appointed and approved the new toll route. The petition includes toll rates by type of conveyance and number of “beasts.”
Samuel Crafts and others petitioned for a new road from Lamoille village to Craftsbury in 1834. Four Greensboro men opposed it, saying “it will cost more than $400 the mile to make said road [which] can be of no use to the inhabitants of Greensboro … [who] are heavily burdened with publick roads and it is difficult for us to meet the expence of keeping them in repair.” Commissioners responded that “your committee were sensible that it would lay a considerable burden upon the town to make the road, from which … they would receive no benefit. But such is the nature of the country, that, unless the road be laid thro’ that part of Greensboro, the whole road must be abandoned, and the public be driven to travel over one of the most hilly roads in our country, instead of one of the most level ones, if this were made.” The supreme court ruled in favor of the road.
In 1839-1840, in response to Lyman Burgess and other petitioners, a new road was laid out and constructed between Georgia and Milton. Many local residents testified on the proposed route and the conditions of the territory. The road commissioners surveyed the route and prepared simple drawings for the supreme court.
Luke Poland’s Bridge
In 1885 Cambridge selectmen opposed a road petition by Luke Poland and others that included a bridge over the Lamoille River -- a bridge Cambridge alone would have to pay for. They argued that Waterville and Belvidere would benefit more and should share costs. The town already had 36 bridges to keep in repair. Some of the road commissioners agreed with them, but in the end Cambridge footed the bill for “Poland’s Bridge.” Alanson Edgerton, an experienced bridge builder, recommended a double track bridge for safety in a windy location.
Poland’s bridge is still in use, and has its own Wikipedia entry.
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