Construction equipment, currently frozen in ice, sits underneath the I-91 bridge in Brattleboro.
Construction equipment, currently frozen in ice, sits underneath the I-91 bridge in Brattleboro. (Chris May/Brattleboro Reformer)

BRATTLEBORO -- Cold temperatures combined with an unexpected rise in water level has forced a delay of some construction on an area highway bridge.

Chunks of ice riddle the top of the West River and below the bridge on Interstate 91 sits temporarily unmanned construction equipment that is frozen underneath water.

"The equipment is under water as a result of an ice buildup," said PCL Civil Constructors Inc. Project Manager Caleb Linn, who is overseeing the bridge work. "This hadn't happened on this project to date."

Some machinery as well as building materials appeared to be stuck beneath the river. The equipment was being used to replace the deteriorated I-91 bridge over Route 30 and the West River.

On Tuesday, Linn said that the equipment was found that way on the previous afternoon and the situation should only briefly impact the project. He was awaiting word from Army Corps of Engineers to better understand upstream and downstream flow conditions for the river.

Weather will also play a big factor in determining when the equipment will be back in working order. Also, the water elevation will need to recede.

"We need the water levels to drop. The ice is just sitting on top of the water. As soon as the water levels come back down, the ice will come with it then the causeway down there will be accessible and we can get back to work," said Linn.

On the other side of the West River, work continues at the other causeway. Fifty percent of the foundations have been set up at that site.

Both causeways are the locations that will host new foundations and piers for the bridge.

"It's only impacted one of the multiple operations we have going on with the project," said Linn. "It's a very unfortunate weather event that will hopefully pass soon."

All work has been on schedule up to date. This marks the first winter for the project that is slated for completion in early 2016.