Morning Snow Makes for Messy Commute in Vermont’s Champlain Valley

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Not the ideal start to the work week in Vermont, that’s for sure.  Bad road conditions delayed many commutes in the Champlain Valley Monday.  Frustrated sums up the feelings of many drivers.  Some question where the VTrans plows were, and why roads were so bad so early?  Others say this is just December in Vermont.

One word for Monday morning’s commute: horrible.  For some a 5 minute drive turned into 45, and others sat along Route 7 for hours.  “I was 30 minutes late to work. <How long did you spend in that back up?> Probably 45 to an hour,” answered Nate Kilburn, who was ne of many caught up in the morning delays.  H says drivers need to slow down, but had another concern.  “I think they need to get out sooner, the plow trucks, because the roads were just horrible,” he added.

Turns out VTrans plows had hit the roads early.  “All trucks were out on the roads when snow began.  Trucks were making applications as soon as the snow was getting covered on our roadways,” stated Rejean Lafleche, District 5 Manager.  He says more than 60 drivers were out by 5:00 am Monday in Northwestern Vermont.

Regional Manager David Blackmore says the latest storm just hit at one of the worst times, “To start the season out, Mother Nature’s not doing us any favors by having these storms come in during the morning commute.”  Blackmore says each of the plow routes typically takes 2 hours to complete.  With heavy traffic, that time can extend.  “When we blend into commuting traffic, it slows us down.  If we have any delays like anybody else, it slows us or brings us to a stop,” said Blackmore.

Despite the work by VTrans, it was a busy morning for local law enforcement.  “This one, even though it was forecasted, we knew it was going to be a rough commute.  People do tend to forget, and don’t allow themselves enough time,” said Lieutenant Doug Allen.  Allen says Colchester officers responded to more than 20 vehicles crashes and 15 slide-offs Monday morning.  Secondary roads like Coon Hill Road, where there were 5 accidents alone, remained closed late into the day.  “At some points in Colchester, it was almost impossible to get from one side of town to the other,” he added.

The group all agree, drivers need to slow down, allow road crews to work, and gear up.  This is just the start.  “It’s winter time in Vermont and we’ve got to be on guard,” stated Blackmore.

Road crews and emergency responders remind drivers to slow down and move over if you see an accident or if those folks are out helping someone who’s gone off the road.  And give enough room for plows moving up and down roadways.

VTrans does have a Winter Action Plan that breaks down how they go about cleaning up after a storm.

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