Crews Work To Rebuild Road To Mendon
08/30/11 5:11PM By Melody Bodette, Lynne McCrea  Download MP3
(Host) Crews worked through the night on Route Four in Mendon to rebuild the road so emergency crews to get into towns near Killington.
The road is the only way out of the mountains and it was nearly destroyed in flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.
VPR's Melody Bodette got a look at the damage.
(Bodette) The Mendon town clerk's office has been the hub of information for a town cut in half when a main travel route washed out.
It's also within sight of a massive operation to re-open the road to allow emergency vehicles and utility crews to get into the mountains.
Mendon Selectman Larry Courcelle says progress is being made and evacuations may soon begin:
(Courcelle) "We're hoping at some point to
get permission from the agency of transportation to use that road to exodus
people in and out at a certain point."
(Bodette) Courcelle says teams are meeting every four hours with updates on the response. Killington officials are now able to travel back and forth by ATV to Mendon.
And some people have been able to get out of isolated towns on foot. A van is transporting those who want to leave to Rutland.
Courcelle says supplies, including food and fuel, are running out in Killington. But a helicopter planned to drop food in those towns.
Officials hope to allow emergency vehicles up the emergency road soon.
On an ATV headed up the mountain, Courcelle says amazing progress has been made on the road:
(Courcelle) "That road wasn't there last night. That originally there was only enough room to get this ATV through."
(Bodette) The ATV hugs the right hand side of the road. The left two lanes of travel are completely gone:
(Bodette) "How high is that drop off?"
(Courcelle) "Oh, it's probably 20 feet, in some places it's probably 30. Right now they're trying to get the Mendon Brook back where it belongs, Originally it came from the road all the way over. We're going to see more damage where it took half the hill down."
(Bodette) The normally placid Mendon Brook has eaten huge sections of the roadway. The gravel river bottom now holds utility poles, a broken sewage pipeline and chunks of asphalt:
(Courcelle) "You can see fiber optic cables running down through there. You can see where the power lines are, you can see the remnants of a guardrail."
(Bodette) We pass by a red and white farm house on the other side of the brook. A man walks around outside. The bridge that was their driveway is in a pile of rubble:
(Bodette) "Are they trapped there or is there another way out for them?"
(Courcelle) "They're trapped."
(Bodette) The ATV turns right onto a dirt road that Courcelle says is normally quite scenic. Now it end abruptly in a mess of tress and stones.
(Courcelle) "We're coming up on Wheelerville
Road, or what used to be Wheelerville
Road, I'm not sure how far you can go in, but most of it
is gone on this end."
(Bodette) "Do people live up there?"
(Courcelle) "Yes they do. Town Crews are
working on the other end. This is a seven mile road, it comes out on the Notch
Road, what you see now is probably a good portion of what this road looks like
for several miles."
(Bodette) Courcelle says the road is open at the other end to allow people out.
(Courcelle) "It could be years before we get this back together. It's going to be a long time before anyone can go through."
(Bodette) For VPR News, I'm Melody Bodette in Mendon.