Cavendish, Weathersfield and Stockbridge Still To Come

From the Rutland Herald:

Vermont Agency of Transportation officials have good news and bad news about state road repairs after Tropical Storm Irene. More roads are opening in southern Vermont, but there is still plenty of work to be finished.

On Friday, Deputy Secretary Sue Minter announced at the Ascutney District Garage that Route 100 from West Bridgewater to Ludlow is open to traffic, but routes 131 in Cavendish, 106 in Weathersfield and 107 in Stockbridge won’t be ready until November or December. She urged Vermonters to be patient.

“We know transportation is a lifeline to so many, but our message to Vermonters is, ‘We’re working. Help is on the way and we will not quit until it’s complete,’” Minter said. “We had about 500 miles of road that were affected by Irene. In day 25 of our recovery response, we’ve taken that number down to 55 miles.”

Agency officials invited the media to see firsthand the toughest challenges they face. Route 131 in Cavendish lost a large section during the storm. According to incident commander Joe Flynn of the agency, Black River overflow clogged a stone box culvert, which gave way. A massive amount of water washed into a nearby stream and caused severe erosion. The combined forces took out 200 yards of Route 131 and left a 100-foot chasm behind. It is now referred to as the “Cavendish Canyon.”

Flynn said it will take 74,000 cubic yards of material to repair the banks and the state highway. The transportation agency, the Maine Department of Transportation and the Vermont and Ohio National Guards have been working around the clock. They have restored about 44,000 cubic yards, but the repairs won’t be completed until mid-November, according to Flynn.

“We were hearing people tell us that they saw the water 20 to 25 feet higher than they’ve ever seen it before. The National Guard arrived Sept. 6 and have been working day and night. If you look at the stream now, you hardly see any water. You see only a trickle now. That’s the most frightening and most unusual thing and you can imagine what had to be there in order to create this damage,” Flynn said.

The Black River also showed its wrath miles down from the Cavendish Canyon. A section of Route 106 in Weathersfield sustained severe flooding and erosion. The flooding wiped out the riverbanks and the road. Flynn said it will take an additional 80,000 cubic yards of material to restore this area of Route 106 and it may not be completed until late this year.

“Up until a week and a half ago we couldn’t work down there because the river was working against us. We had to wait for the water levels to recede and slow down. We have a fast-moving water at the toe of the slope and it’s challenging,” Flynn said. “In a strange way, the people who build these roads and bridges look at these challenges as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s challenging their talents within the agency. I think we can manage that.”

Cavendish Town Manager Richard Svec said he was amazed at the progress. He credited everyone for their hard work, including members of the Ohio National Guard, who are returning to Ohio. In the meantime, Svec is hoping business as usual will return to Cavendish and Weathersfield soon.

“We’re up against the clock here,” Svec said.

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