Editorial: Good grief, Gov. Scott!

© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Local representatives and select boards hoping to get Route 11 between Londonderry and Chester repaired for years must have felt a bit like Charlie Brown.

Autumn after autumn, in the Peanuts comic strip, he tried to kick a football held by his nemesis, Lucy. And no matter how solemnly she promised to keep the ball in place, Lucy always plucked it away at the last moment sending Charlie Brown flat on his back with an “Augh!”

After receiving assurances from VTrans that the road would be repaired for a number of years, only to see each of those promises pulled away at the last moment, the Andover Select Board called on Gov. Phil Scott to get the job done. In his letter to Scott, board chair  Red Johnson noted that as one of the state’s few east-west corridors, it is a major conduit for gasoline trucks from the Port of Albany and that the road had become an urgent safety issue.

In an April 2 letter to the board, Gov. Scott thanked them for their concern writing, “I’ve been told the schedule for this project has changed in recent years due to budget constraints … I have asked VTrans to ensure there is an open line of communication with the communities and the region as to future expectations for this corridor.”

Gov. Scott went on to say that there is a pavement rehabilitation scheduled for that portion of the road in the summer of 2019 and, teeing up the football, Scott pointed to another $75 million in “paving investments” scheduled for area in the next five years.

But it looks like Johnson is no Charlie Brown. In an April 13 letter to Scott, Johnson called the governor’s response disappointing. Noting the increased, daily risk of injury and death, Johnson wrote that local VTrans officials “agree that the paving project cannot be put off for another two years.” He also asked for the work to be done “this year.”

Writing that “seeing is believing,” Johnson asked that Scott come and see the condition of the road. We would go one step further and call on the governor to experience Route 11 in the way that thousands of visitors to our state do every year – on his motorcycle – and then say wait.

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  1. Tim Roper says:

    I received the response below from the governor’s office last week. At Governor Scott’s direction, I’ll be writing VTrans Chief Engineer, Kevin Marshia at kevin.marshia@vermont.gov or (802) 279-3594, in order to learn the order of priority for beginning the capital projects listed here.

    I encourage others to join my effort to push for bringing the Chester- Londonderry section of RT-11 to the top of this list.

    Tim:

    Thank you to you for taking the time to write and express your concerns with the condition of Route 11 between Londonderry and Chester. I have received an update on this section of road from the management team at VTrans.

    VTrans is indeed very aware of the condition of this highway. They have confirmed they have also heard from town officials, motorists and their maintenance staff as it relates to the condition of this highway. I can assure you that your community concerns have been received and we are committed to meeting those needs as best we can with the funds that are available for paving projects. Unfortunately, nearly 14% of the highway network in Vermont has a rating of “very poor”. Sections of Route 11 in this area are certainly in this category as are approximately 350 miles of state highway throughout Vermont.

    The Transportation Capital Program for FY18 includes a substantial, 14 mile pavement rehabilitation project for Route 11 which is scheduled for the summer of 2019. I’ve been told the schedule for this project has changed in recent years due to budget constraints, I want to apologize because I can imagine how frustrating that must be. I have asked VTrans to ensure there is an open line of communication with the communities and the region as to future expectations along this corridor.

    As there are other sections of road in need of attention in your region, I wanted to make you aware of those. These projects are scheduled for construction within the next five years. The following is a list of those projects, which totals to nearly $75 million in paving investments.

    Project Name
    Project Number
    Route
    Estimated Cost
    Chester-Springfield
    STP 2942()
    VT10
    $3.5 Million

    Chester-Springfield
    STP PS19(4)
    VT11
    $3.5 Million

    Londonderry-Chester
    STP PS(19(10)
    VT11
    $11.6 Million

    Jamaica-Winhall
    STP 2904(1)
    VT30
    $12.7 Million

    Manchester-Dorset
    STP PS19(9)
    VT30
    $3.2 Million

    Manchester-Peru
    STP 2708(1)
    VT30
    $10.1 Million

    Rockingham-Clarendon
    NH SURF(49)
    VT103
    $7.6 Million

    Rockingham-Springfield
    STP 2962(1)
    US5
    $6.2 Million

    Springfield
    STP PS19(5)
    VT106
    $1.4 Million

    Cavendish-Weathersfield
    ER STP 0146(14)
    VT131
    $20.7 Million

    While I wish we had the resources to rehabilitate all the poor roads in Vermont, that unfortunately is not a reality. I can assure you that VTrans will continue to monitor the condition of this road and perform routine maintenance as necessary to get us through to construction. If you would like additional information or want to discuss any of these points in more detail, I would encourage you to contact VTrans Chief Engineer, Kevin Marshia at kevin.marshia@vermont.gov or (802) 279-3594.

    Sincerely,

    Philip B. Scott
    Governor

  2. Tim Roper says:

    Sent this to the Governor. Here’s the link for others to send their own thoughts: http://governor.vermont.gov/contact-us/message

    Hello Gov. Scott,

    I live on the southwest side of Chester and want to be sure you’re aware of the unbelievably poor condition of state Route 11 between Chester and Londonderry.

    In each of the previous three years, I’ve fully expected that the AOT had a plan in place to repair this road, yet nothing has been done and I’ve recently learned that nothing is planned for taking care of it this season either.

    I drive all over our beautiful state and have done so for nearly 30 years now, as my work requires me to travel. In all of that time I can’t recall any paved section of state highway that was let go for so long and to degrade to such an unsafe condition.

    Please keep in mind that since the town of Woodstock banned tractor-trailer traffic from US Route 4 there, all of the gasoline tankers ferrying fuel from the Port of Albany to points east now use Route 11, day and night. This road is unsafe for cars, let alone 60,000-pound tanker-trucks.

    I challenge you to take a ride on down here to see this for yourself instead of relying on the filtered information you’re apparently receiving through some AOT manager. I fear that a disaster is inevitable if nothing is done to rectify the condition of the paved surface of this state highway.

    Thanks for your attention.
    Tim Roper

  3. Marie Wade says:

    I live on Route 11 between Chester and Andover. It really is bad. People try to miss the mess and head toward you. Maybe the state would like to start paying for front-end alignments?

  4. We don’t have a direct way to communicate with “the fifth floor” but you might try http://www.vermont.gov and click on Gov. Phil Scott. There’s an envelope icon at the bottom of that page labeled “Write the Governor” Good luck.

  5. Tim Roper says:

    That section of highway is the worst I drive on anywhere in the state. Can you please provide us with the best avenues for citizens to communicate directly to the governor’s office?