Construction gridlock has meant long lines of traffic and wait times. But Tuesday, motorists on one stretch of road had at least something to smile about.
"Some people have laughed about it, so I chuckled when I heard about it," said Marty Beattie of Marty's 1st Stop.
Hackers broke into a construction sign in Danville, helping give voice to the frustration of many, and adding a humorous zombie-related twist of their own. The construction sign that once warned motorists about road work now complained, "We are sick of traffic" and also said, "Raging zombies 1 mile."
But for many the inconvenience this project has caused is no laughing matter.
"Just sitting here waiting. It just takes longer than it seems like it should," said Mike Litchfield of Colchester.
The work to widen the road and improve drainage and other utilities passes right through the heart of Danville. It means local residents like Karen Lewis have to negotiate more than a dozen flaggers just to get to the grocery store.
"The bottom line message to VTrans is you really screwed up with this one on the planning and thinking about local people and their needs and their ways of getting to what they need to do to live their daily lives," said Karen Lewis of Peacham.
Businesses like Marty's 1st Stop have seen a drop in customers. Marty Beattie had to lay off two workers and has been asking others to go home early.
"There's been delays up to 55 minutes and then that's when you get travelers that are very getting violent and very unhappy. We had one guy fall asleep and had to wake him up because he fell asleep beside the road," Beattie said.
Local businesses met with state officials two weeks ago to give their input.
"With the volume of traffic on Route 2 it needs to flow two lanes most of the time or it gets really backed up," Beattie said. "I've seen backups as far as a mile and a half back toward St. Johnsbury and back toward Larabee Building Supply on the west side of Danville."
"Right there in the middle of Danville there's just not enough right-of-way to run two lanes of traffic simultaneously," Vt. Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said. "We're going to try to do some widening, and that will facilitate perhaps turning traffic to get out of line and make certain turns into businesses or side streets. But even that is difficult because this is so narrow."
Searles says they have put together some traffic improvement suggestions they'll present to the contractor and hope to have an agreement by the end of the week.
With no zombies in sight, workers fixed the sign and it was back to normal later in the morning. Now motorists and local businesses can only hope this stretch of road will be back to normal soon. And pray the project will wrap up on schedule by October next year.
"I say a little prayer," said Father Joseph Lively of the Burlington Catholic Diocese. "I say a little prayer to give me the patience to wait in line."
As far as the zombie hacking goes, officials say someone cut through the lock and used a specialized computer to change the traffic sign. Zombie messages have shown up around the country in the past few years. It happened two years ago in Colchester. This case has been forwarded to the Vermont State Police.
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