Vt. flooding transportation tally $35M and increasing

Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 5:50 PM EDT
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CHELSEA, Vt. (WCAX) - More than 120 roads across the region have reopened since the catastrophic flooding two weeks ago but work continues as more repairs are needed, projects that will cost the state tens of millions of dollars.

The flood waters took their toll on the region’s aging infrastructure.

“It’s all hands on deck right now,” said Joshua Paquette, an engineer with VTrans.

The damage to a bridge on Route 110 in Chelsea is barely visible to the untrained eye. High water compromised the foundation, causing the span above to slowly begin falling apart. Work is now underway to build a replacement bridge to get the road back open.

“It’s very challenging because all of our bridges -- they were put in almost a 100 years ago so they are all coming due to be replaced at the same time,” Paquette said.

In neighboring Vershire, Route 113 has been closed after a bridge was completely wiped out. Paquette says work is moving along there as well with a similar temporary. “The only difference is there is no existing structure anymore,” he said.

“They were here the next morning. They have been going straight,” said Ken Rice, who lives a stone’s throw from the Vershire span and has had to alter his daily driving patterns. “To go three miles down the road, now you are going an excess of say seven, eight extra miles.”

But Rice understands the inconvenience and appreciates the efforts to fix the damage. Governor Phil Scott Tuesday urged everyone to be patient as the state rebuilds. “There may be some frustration there but, put yourself in the place of someone who is displaced from their home, still mucking out their home in the city of Barre or Montpelier or their business -- it pales in comparison,” he said.

Damage to roads and bridges across the region has racked up a price tag of $35 million so far but Scott said that is likely to go up significantly. Seven roads are still not passable and nearly 296 will require additional work, work that will be taking place in the weeks, months, and even years ahead.

The temporary bridge on Route 110 should be passable in a couple of weeks however a permanent replacement could take up to three years.