VTrans taking input on Smuggler’s Notch stuck truck solutions

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 11:39 PM EDT
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HYDE PARK, Vt. (WCAX) - Despite abundant signage, trucks continue to get stuck in Smuggler’s Notch year after year, with five incidents so far this year alone. The Vermont Transportation Agency received input from the community at a meeting Wednesday about new strategies to stop the trucks in their tracks.

The Notch Road is open from May to mid-October. State officials say the route can handle a small stream of cars and trucks, but any vehicle more than 40 feet long isn’t going to make it around the curves and turns. Area residents argue that’s causing problems for the entire community.

“I do respect truckers, but they need to respect the people who live and work in Vermont,” said Jenna from Fairfax. She was one of about 20 people participating in the VTrans forum in Hyde Park. She shared a lot of the same ideas as those participating remotely about how to keep truckers out. “We don’t have enough open discussions with a lot of these truck drivers’ unions to just show them a YouTube of trucks getting stuck on the Notch, or try to inform them,”

She says these incidents have kept her from getting to work and other places, and she’s not alone. Since last July, VTrans has been looking into how to keep trucks from driving through the steep and windy road.

VTrans’ Todd Sears says a lot of truckers getting stuck or pulled over blame their GPS devices. Sears says they’ve been working with GPS companies to fix this issue, but it’s an ongoing effort. Even for truckers following a GPS, VTrans has posted sign after sign in the miles leading up to the narrow route to warn them not to take it. Now, they’re considering more visible prevention measures, like building a difficult-to-maneuver island at the head of the road or using “intelligent transportation systems sensors.“ “That sensor would trigger something up range -- so it may trigger a big bold sign directly, specifically at that truck -- which says, ‘Do not proceed,’ or it could trigger a mechanical gateway,” Sears explained.

A different suggestion discussed was a gateway arch that’s the height of an average tractor-trailer truck, which is a little more than 13 feet. “If we did that, what other kinds of vehicles would it stop that would otherwise be able to make it through,” Sears said. “That’s the analysis we need to do.”

VTrans will be holding other public meetings like this one. When and where is still to be determined. You can also give feedback online.

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