Two Substantial Grants Make Preservation Project Possible
Pier Bridge Grant
In the late 1990’s the Town of Newport applied for and was awarded a $500,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant to be available July 1, 2007. The grant is a challenge-style grant requiring a 20% match. In other words, the state provides $400,000 or 80% of the total and the Town of Newport provides $100,000 or 20% of the total. The purpose of the grant is to install a three-part fire suppression system and perform needed repairs to the bridge to protect the truss’s from the weather.
As of May 2006, there was no plan in place to fund the $100,000 (20%) match needed to secure the $400,000 (80%) in grant funds provided by the State. At the May 2006 meeting of the Newport Historical Society, the members voted to devote time and resources in an attempt to raise the $100,000 match needed to secure the grant.
See the NHS involvement link to learn of the fundraising that ensued.
Wright’s Bridge Grant
In the 2005-2006 grant round offered by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, Transportation Enhancement Program, the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources applied for and was awarded a grant to add fire suppression to the Wright’s Railroad Covered Bridge, approximately one mile west of the Pier Bridge on the Sugar River off Chandlers Mills Road in the Kellyville portion of Newport. The total grant awarded was $111,392. The match was secured by the Department of Resources and Economic Development’s share of revenues from sales of the New Hampshire Conservation (Moose) license plates. The fire suppression proposal was the same, three-part system described in the Pier Bridge grant information listed above. State Combines Grants
As the State learned of the Newport Historical Society’s substantial progress in raising the $100,000 Pier Bridge grant match in early May of 2007, the agency agreed to combine both grants for a preservation pool of funds totaling $611,392. With the fundraising total at that time approaching $65,000, the state also removed the July 1 deadline, confident that the Society could raise the balance of the funds needed. What Are Transportation Enhancement Grants? The following explanation of these grants has been provided by Dr. James Garvin, State Architectural Historian, New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources:
Transportation Enhancement (TE) monies are a separate category of funding that has been authorized by the past three Transportation Acts—ISTEA, TEA-21, and SAFETEA-LU, the current law—the bills that appropriate funding for the nation’s transportation program.
These funds are specifically for “enhancements” to the nation’s transportation program—projects that go beyond simply getting people and goods from point to point. TE funds specifically include monies for historic preservation of transportation-related structures such as early roads, bridges and railroad-related structures, for the development or improvement of trails (which are also considered to be legitimate and valued parts of the nation’s transportation system), and for the provision and maintenance of scenic attributes along transportation corridors. The two Newport bridges are ideal TE projects in that they combine historic preservation with trails use—and are rare surviving elements of the nation’s railroad transportation legacy.
Once TE funds are voted and allocated by New Hampshire’s TE committee, the funded projects are certified as legitimate under the TE program. TE funds MUST be used for enhancement projects, and the selection of Pier and Wright’s Bridges (twice) by the TE committee attested to the preservation and the purposes of the TE program.