Wind: 16 mph
When extended periods of rain happen – like this week – there are many of us who keep an eye on the USGS stream gauge in the Mad River near Moretown which soared to almost 30,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water flow during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
This week, after raining all of Monday, the stream gauge went from about 500 cfs at midnight to 900 cfs by Tuesday morning. It rose steadily throughout the day and peaked at about 4,100 cfs early Wednesday morning. As of press time on Wednesday afternoon the gauge was back down to 1,850 cfs and those who live and own property along the riverbanks were breathing a little easier.
Because when you’ve been flooded in the past you keep a keen ear and eye tuned to the river when it starts to rise. The forecast had called for rain to continue through Saturday and it may. But the window of no rain (and even some sun) on Wednesday let the water in the river flow north and the water levels drop somewhat. So, maybe we’re in the clear this time.
The need to watch the river is not new. The Mad River is flood prone, mad even. But there might be less to worry about if the long-planned and very important Bridge Street project were to take place this year as planned.
Prior to Tropical Storm Irene, Waitsfield was working on a riverbank stabilization plan for the area south of Bridge Street. That now has state approval and the town is combining that work with work to perform badly needed repairs to the covered bridge on Bridge Street, work on a stormwater drainage system and work to repair/repave the street while putting a utility conduit underground.
The timing of these projects – which will result in the road and covered bridge being closed – was carefully planned to minimize impacts on tourism, wedding and foliage seasons.
To hear, as many did this week, that the project may get postponed until next year because it has been hung up at VTrans since January is disappointing to say the least, and outrageous really.
It’s not fair to all the taxpayers who provided the planning and engineering money that went into designing the project and it’s not fair to the property owners and the people of Waitsfield who might be afforded a little bit more protection next time the river gauge starts to rise.