A plea to VTrans

  • Published in Editorials

It’s summer and that means road repair and construction season in Vermont.

Summer is also a major tourist season for Vermont and The Valley and we’d like to make a plea to VTrans to please put repair and upgrading of Route 17 from its eastern terminus in Waitsfield to the top at the Appalachian Gap on its list of future projects.

Several years ago, after a series of bad accidents on our side of the gap, VTrans put up “Rough Road” signs at the bottom. Most recently, “Bump” signs have appeared beside particularly large potholes on the eastbound land between Marble Hill Road and Tucker Hill Road. Some of those large potholes, which actually span the whole lanes of the road, were temporarily cold-patched last fall, but they are now as bad or worse than ever.

And that’s not the worst of it. Traveling west up the Appalachian Gap in a car is unpleasant and requires dodging potholes. Traveling on a motorcycle is dicey and traveling on a bicycle is downright dangerous.

Given that there is a strong link between tourism and Vermont’s economy and given that there is an even stronger link between recreation, tourism and Vermont’s economy, it’s hard to fathom why such an important road would be left untended to the point where it is dangerous.

Route 17 leads to Mad River Glen, one of the state’s most popular and well visited ski areas. Route 17 leads to access to the Long Trail, Vermont’s well used and very popular north-to-south ridgeline hiking trail.

For tourists, a trip up to the top of Route 17 lets them pose for a picture by the view looking west to the Adirondacks. For cyclists, Route 17 is one of the holy grails of gaps in Vermont cycling – and it’s perilous.

The back side of the App Gap got some new culverts and new paving last year. We’re wondering when it will be our turn.

We understand that transportation dollars are stretched short in the state and that infrastructure needs abound. We get that. And we’d like to know what it takes to get on the list for some love from VTrans.