New VTrans' Plans to Keep Tractor Trailers Off Smugglers' Notch This Season

CAMBRIDGE, Vt. - State officials have some new ideas in mind to keep tractor trailers and buses off Smugglers’ Notch as the summer months approach.

Pat Delang lives in the town of Cambridge and volunteers in the village of Jeffersonville, which are located at the base of Smugglers’ Notch.

She says she drives Notch Road up to 15 times every summer.

“I love it,” she said. “I drive a mini. What more can I say? I love the curves."

Tractor trailer and bus drivers do not love the curves. If they try to pass through the windy, hilly mountain, they’ll likely get stuck and close down the scenic road.

“I think the last couple years it's been worse,” said Delang.

Delang says its disruptive for commuters and for the local economy.

“It causes a blip as well because you have the tourists in Stowe who come over here and all the people staying at Smugglers who go in the other direction,” she said.

Last year, eight trucks and at least one bus got stuck, according to Joshua Schultz, who works at the Vermont Agency of Transportation Maintenance and Operations Bureau.

Over the years, VTrans has added signs to warn truck drivers.

Last year, the legislature increased the fines for truckers who try to cross.

Did it deter them?

“It’s too soon to tell,” Schultz said.

He says the agency is working on other ways to keep the large vehicles off the Notch.

New electronic signs are up on each side, specifically located to give truck drivers an opportunity to turn around after they see it.

“We still have to hook up the solar panels for that so we can get power to it and we're hoping to do that within the next couple months and then we'll have two new signs up there,” said Schultz.

Also, VTrans is considering arranging an obstacle course for trucks to get through before the actual Notch.

“They might be pylons. They might be cones,” said Schultz. “If a vehicle could navigate through it then they could make it through the Notch. If they can't then there's really no harm done."

Schultz says the agency is still working with GPS companies on finding a way to alert truckers on their devices.

“[It] doesn't discriminate whether you're driving a passenger car or a tractor trailer truck. The GPS system doesn't know to say 'don't take route 108 through the notch, you can't make it.' It just doesn't know what you're driving,” said Schultz.

VTrans is also thinking about using sensors that measure length to alert truckers. Sometimes, Schultz says, a vehicle’s inability to cross the Notch has to do with its height.

"This is really important to us. It's a really important road in the state and we're doing everything we can to keep it open all the time and to deter tractor trailer trucks from trying to go through that route,” he said.

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