Heavy rainfall damages roads

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(Host) The rainy summer has made it even more of a challenge than usual to maintain Vermont’s thousands of miles of dirt roads.

Over the weekend, road crews in several central and southern Vermont communities were called out to make emergency repairs.

That’s because heavy storm runoff washed away big chunks of roads in towns such as Berlin and Moretown. Even a state highway in Wallingford was damaged, and a stretch of Route 140 remains closed today.

Steve Jerome works for the Vermont Local Roads Program, which provides towns with technical assistance. He says a difficult job is made even more demanding in a summer like this one.

(Jerome) “It’s a tough job for the smaller towns and smaller road crews. A lot of people don’t realize that these road crews that are out there, typically in a small town, is probably no more than two or three people. And given the amount of miles of roadways that can be affected by a storm situation, that’s a lot of work for them to do.”

(Host) Of the 12,000 miles of roads maintained by towns, more than 7,500 of them are dirt or gravel.

Jerome says when there’s as much rain as there’s been this summer, water pools in the subsurface of even the best maintained roads.

(Jerome) “You can go out and grade a road one day. You get the rain. The water’s allowed to sit there and with the pumping action or the movement of the soft soil underneath, you would have potholes, depressions in the roads, so on like that. And it’s just caused from water. The excessive amount of water that we’ve had this year is phenomenal.”

(Host) Vermont Emergency Management says all of the local roads that had to close because of damage this weekend have been repaired.

But local officials caution that there’s still damage and drivers need to be cautious. State officials say it will be several days before Route 140 in Wallingford can reopen.


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