Flood clean-up efforts continue

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(Host) Three state highways are still closed as much as ten days after sections of the roads were washed out in flash floods.

State highway crews have dumped tons of fill and rebuilt culverts, but the going has been slow.

As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, one of the roads may reopen today – but it still won’t be paved.

(Sneyd) Sugar Hill Road is a rugged, narrow country lane that twists and turns between Wallingford and East Wallingford.

That meant David Seward seldom ran into traffic when he was moving a tractor from one field to another.

Until two weekends ago, when the gravel road became a detour for state Route 140.

Route 140 was washed out when a beaver dam let go. Over about a half mile, culverts were gone, pavement was ripped up and boulders littered what road was left.

So Seward says he has to be alert to a lot more traffic on a little town road near his farm.

(Seward) “We move cattle on the road, so that makes it a little more difficult. And, of course our machinery is wide and you just got to slow down and be a little more careful.”

(Sneyd) There aren’t a lot of homes on the damaged stretch of Route 140, so the state has kept it closed while repairs were under way.

The state Transportation Agency hopes to reopen the highway in the next couple of days.

But Route 125 has been a different story.

Scott Rogers is deputy operations director for VTrans.

(Rogers) “125 is a little more challenging, which is why we really had our crews out there putting a lot of extra effort in to get it open for local traffic and to be able to get emergency services through to locals.”

(Sneyd) But it’s difficult to rebuild a highway when people are trying to get back and forth. So Route 125 in the Ripton area has been closed down for periods everyday so crews can dump fill and hold back the Middlebury River.

It’s been difficult for locals, who have to take a ten-mile detour if they can’t get out before repair crews take over each day.

And for businesses, it’s been even tougher. Here’s Bill Pierce, co-owner of the Chipman Inn.

(Pierce) “It’s been something of a problem because, in the first place, the Bread Loaf School of English just completed this past weekend and they had graduation. And, of course, we had a number of guests to do with that, staying for people graduating. They had a time getting here because they had to, on those days, use the 10-mile detour. But, of course, they did.”

(Sneyd) Farther east, on the other side of Middlebury Gap, only one lane of Route 125 is open in the town of Hancock.

And in Salisbury and Leicester, a bridge was damaged on Route 53. The state hasn’t determined how bad that is and whether the bridge can be reopened anytime soon.

VTrans says it’s hopeful that more of the other damaged roads will open in the coming days. But even then, they’ll be rough dirt roads. The state hasn’t scheduled paving, yet.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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