The question of what happens when one town’s road work impacts another town’s roads is a keen reminder of just how interconnected we are here.
Duxbury is facing three years of increased traffic on River Road as drivers try to escape the delays caused by construction in Waterbury Village. That three-year project will bring underground power and other cosmetic changes to the village.
Moretown is looking at a 60-day closure of Route 100B at the south end of town next summer when the crumbling bridge over the Mad River is replaced. Not too many people getting to and from Moretown are going to use the designated VTrans detour, using Route 2 and Route 100, to get from place to place.
Rather, those drivers are going to use Moretown Mountain Road, Stevens Brook Road and Pony Farm Road– just like drivers are using River Road to avoid Waterbury Village construction. All these roads (with the exception of part of Moretown Mountain Road) are dirt, some are steep and many feature sharp, twisting corners where people and dogs and kids abound.
While the portion of River Road that people are using to avoid the downtown Waterbury project is wholly in Duxbury, these other unofficial routes run through multiple towns.
Pony Farm Road in Moretown becomes North Road in Waitsfield. Moretown Mountain Road becomes Northfield Mountain Road in Northfield. Stevens Brook Road is half in Moretown and half in Duxbury.
Towns can receive some remuneration from their neighbors and from state grants for extra maintenance costs when one town’s project impacts another’s roads, but that can’t make up for the impact of additional traffic on road residents. Money can’t fix hundreds of cars on a road that used to see dozens.
This dilemma demonstrates more than just how our roads connect our towns. It’s a reminder of how our mountain ridges define our Valley and how our river connects us.
It’s unavoidable that our friends and neighbors will seek the shortest route to get from Point A to Point B. Can we all try to be good neighbors and be respectful of our fellow community members when we’re doing that?
Let’s slow down on River Road and let’s make sure to slow down on Moretown Mountain Road, Stevens Brook Road and Pony Farm/North Road next summer.