Traffic In Marlboro Delays Road Repairs

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(Host) Earlier this week, the Windham County town of Marlboro was one of the 13 isolated towns.

It was cut off on all sides by torn up roads caused by the torrents of Irene. Crews have worked tirelessly to patch together temporary connecting roads.

But access brings new problems, as VPR’s Susan Keese reports.

(Keese)  The news came on Wednesday: some of the unpaved, narrow back roads into Marlboro from West Brattleboro were passable.

With Route 9, the major east-west route closed, that opened up possibilities for connecting the isolated in the region. Marlboro, Wilmington, Wardsboro.

As soon as the roads opened Marlboro had a traffic problem. Gravel and repair trucks needed space to work; deliveries had to get through. And people in private cars seemed to have somewhere to go in a hurry.

Craig Hammond, a Marlboro selectman, says some were more considerate than others.

(Hammond) "I mean Shaw’s supermarket called us and asked permission to bring a trailer truck through, to Wilmington, because they need food in Wilmington."

(Keese) Hammond says the alternate  roads have had to be re-closed and rebuilt several times, either because of an accident or because they couldn’t take the traffic.

(Hammond) "A lot of people are driving way out of their way to get places, and over time people lose patience… and they get feisty about getting through."

(Keese) Lucy Gratwick is the chair of the Marlboro select board. She says there has to be a way to prioritize emergency traffic.

(Gratwick) "It was very hard to keep places that the road crew could work because they heard on face book that the roads were open."

(Keese) The town had a meeting about it Thursday night. And they decided to ask the state for help controlling traffic until Route 9 re-opens.


(Keese) Which is what they did on Tuesday when Governor Peter Shumlin landed in a helicopter on the Marlboro College soccer field.

Shumlin has been visiting the state’s hardest hit towns. He’s been answering questions, taking notes, and delivering the same message in each town:

(Shumlin) "Let me just say, we’re going to be okay. Vermont‘s going to get through this. There’s no question in my mind that this is the worst storm that Vermont has ever experienced."

(Keese) Marlboro residents had plenty of questions. They asked about the effects of mold, about testing well water, and the quality of their local swimming pond.

And they had plenty of complaints about the lack of cell phone service in town especially with land lines still down.

But they praised Shumlin for talking about global warming during national interviews. Shumlin is convinced global climate change is here. After the immediate crisis is dealt with, he says, it’s time for planning how to cope with that long-term change.

For VPR News, I’m Susan Keese in Brattleboro.

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