Why do trucks keep getting stuck on the Notch Road?

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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STOWE, Vt. (WCAX) - The Smugglers’ Notch mountain pass between Stowe and Cambridge is known for being a scenic drive... and for trapping trailer trucks.

It happened late Monday night to a tractor-trailer for the first time this season.

Crews work in the dark to remove stuck truck in the Notch
Crews work in the dark to remove stuck truck in the Notch(wcax)

“This has been a source of frustration for us for many many years. Decades. We’ve come up with different solutions, I mean you can see the signs on the exit going to Stowe warning drivers that there’s a huge fine if you go there, that you shouldn’t be going there,” said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

Smugglers’ Notch has always been impassable for long trucks, but in recent years, more and more drivers are getting stuck, possibly because they are blindly following their GPS systems.

“It’s because of the MapQuests in the world. They follow their navigation and unfortunately it puts us in a situation where we have to close the road as a result. I mean, they just can’t go there,” Scott said.

The high point of scenic Route 108 is an S-shaped turn that snakes between giant boulders. And although picturesque, the road becomes a sure trap for large trucks.

People visiting the Notch say the warning signs are extremely hard to miss.

“I saw the signs all the way here. Obviously, if you looked at the signs, you would get stuck somewhere. Just look at the rocks, you should turn around while you can,” said Steve Robbins, who was visiting Smugglers’ Notch.

Despite that, trucks seem to continue to get stuck on an almost monthly basis.

“Other than the flashing signs, which is a great idea, some guys I think they just say, ‘Well, I want to get through there, it’s the quickest route to get to the next place’ and such, but I don’t know why they can’t discount that from the GPS,” said Rick Jewett, who works in the area.

State officials say that they continually enforce the penalties for not heeding the warnings but say they are still searching for the best way to put an end to the issue.

“Often the driver gets fined and or the company and not both if the driver is the only operator. Typically a business is going to pay that because they would be at risk of legal operation in the state of Vermont under the commercial permits that they’re afforded,” Vt. Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn said.

“Obviously, we’re going to look for other approaches just to prevent this from happening again,” the governor said, “but I’m surprised it didn’t happen before yesterday.”

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Crews work in the dark to remove stuck truck in the Notch

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