Rolling roadblocks on Interstate 89 for ledge work - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Rolling roadblocks on Interstate 89 for ledge work

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RICHMOND, Vt. -

Many drivers are making their way through Richmond near the Bolton line and wondering what's up?

"We've been doing rolling roadblocks when we're doing the scaling, so we don't have any traffic in case one piece of ledge decides to bounce out into the travel lane," said Richard Hosking, the district project manager for VTrans.

You heard it right-- rocks are, in fact, falling. But not because of Mother Nature, because contractors are forcing rock out of the ledge in Richmond.

"Because we've had ledge fall off and land in the road, I felt it was important to have this done," Hosking explained.

On March 13, a piece of the ledge came loose and landed in one of the lanes of the interstate. Luckily, no one was harmed, but VTrans didn't want history to repeat itself.

"This ledge was blasted out originally about 50 years ago. And the technology back then was basically put the dynamite in and blow it," Hosking said. "At the time that they were blasted we didn't do the presplitting, so we do have loose ledge. Of course Mother Nature has an effect on that the freeze-thaw cycle-- the water gets down behind the ledge through the cracks and when it freezes it starts expanding the ledge and pretty soon we'll have a piece break off."

Contractors are using bars to break off loose material while tightening the crevices of the ledge to stay in place. Hosking says he anticipates the project will leave the ledge in good condition for about 30-50 years. But in order to get the work done efficiently, VTrans hired contractors that can handle more than scaling.

"It's specialized work," Hosking said. "There are not many contractors in the United States that do this."

Contractors plan to chip away at this ledge for the next 20 days before they move to the opposite side of the interstate to chip away at the other ledge for a 10-day period.

Managers estimate the project will cost $400,000-$500,000 to complete both ledges.

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