Transportation A Struggle In Southern Vermont
09/01/11 8:10AM By Nancy Eve Cohen
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Besides losing power and in some cases water Vermonters have had a hard time getting around. About 65 roads are closed and dozens of bridges are out, leaving some people stuck at home. VPR’s Nancy Cohen took a road trip in the southern part of the state to see if it’s possible to get there from here
(Cohen) On route 112 in Halifax a stretch of road is missing. The asphalt has caved into the North River. A guard rail is under water. But despite the conditions Brianna Inman is heading northwest to Whitingham
(Inman) "This is my first time trying to get back home. Were lucky we live on top of the mountain but going down, there's a brook at the bottom and everything is washed out back there."
(Cohen) Washed out roads are everywhere in southern Vermont. But some people know how to find their way. Mark Washkevich is buying a cold drink inside the Jacksonville general store. He’s wearing a UPS uniform
(Washkevich) "I came in through Jacksonville Stage. Over the green river covered bridge which I think is one of the covered bridges left."
I ask him if he thinks I can make it to Newfane by heading towards north and then east . He’s not optimistic
(Washkevich) "You’re not going to make it. So how should I go Route 9? There’s not a lot of Route 9 anymore."
(Cohen) I decide to take my chances.. I head up 100 and then east on 9. Along the way parts of the road have broken off. Orange cones line the edge warning drivers to be careful
I just passed a sign that says road closed..one the opposite lane, but it doesn’t seem to be closed on my side, so I’m going to keep going see what happens.
Eventually I get to a spot in Marlboro where Route 9, a major east west road has turned to dirt. Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Wrinn is here checking things out.
(Wrinn) "State's working to get as quickly as they can to try to get it open for emergency vehicles that’s where we are at right now. They got crews all up and down Route 9, trying to get them filled."
(Cohen) Edward Gilbert is operating an excavator. But he needs more supplies, like gravel and stone
(Gilbert) "We can’t get it out of Bratt because roads are washed out the trucks are coming from so far away. It's just one every two hours. Slow process."
(Cohen) In the meantime he’s digging up askphalt that was washed into Whetstone Brook next to Route 9
(Gilbert) "We’ re trying to put the road back its in the river so it takes a long process."
(Cohen) You can’t get any further east on this road so I turn around and head west. Lisa Hecht, the Emergency management Director for the Town of Marlboro takes me down Augur Hole Road where a group of men are trying to put back the first in a series of bridges that have washed away.
(Hecht) "You have to fiX this to get to ther nexct one. Yoand then you fix the next one to get to the next one and it goes all the way like that to get to south Newfane."
(Cohen) Farmer Dave Matt has brought his skidder down here to help out. He explains what happened to the bridge
(Matt) "It somehow came off its foundation and then floated doesntream this far. You can see it’s a ten foot drop into the brook. We had to pull it out of the brook and it took the excavator, two payloaders and my skidder to get it up out of here."
(Cohen) Matt and many of the other men here are neighbors volunteering their time to get the road open
(Matt) "Just trying to do what we can. There's so much to do. We’re just trying do whatever might help, Do you know how many people are stuck? From here to south Newfane I have no idea. Lots of people...I mean south Newfane is almost isolated down there. The road up hill and the road down hill is gone, and the road up this way is gone."
(Cohen) 1 year old Gordon Turner lives between this bridge and a second one that was washed away.
(Turner) "Haven’t been able to get out now since Sunday."
(Cohen) But he says it hasn’t bothered him or his wife.
(Turner) "Plenty of water got electric generator that runs the water pump, lights two freezers full. We stay prepared up here."
(Cohen) They’re not only prepared. These neighbors know how to get things done. They managed to get a truck load of gravel, something that’s as good as gold in these parts. And they hope to have this bridge open today.