Mild Winter Means More Money for Vt. Road Repairs

Tue April 10, 2012 - Northeast Edition
Lisa Rathke - Associated Press

A mild winter has allowed Vermont to draw upon an additional $5 million for road repair.
A mild winter has allowed Vermont to draw upon an additional $5 million for road repair.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) Gov. Peter Shumlin on March 21 announced an additional $5 million to repair some of the most damaged roads in Vermont, saying that the money became available partly because of the state’s mild winter.

With the extra funds, a total of about $11 million will be spent this construction season to level and improve about 123 mi. of road after the winter thaw.

“As tough as this winter has been for ski areas and snowmobilers, as tough as it has been this spring for our maple sugar makers, it’s been very good to those of us that have to maintain roads, whether it’s the state or our municipalities,” Shumlin said.

A boost in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding after Tropical Storm Irene will enable the state to increase transportation spending by $103 million — to more than $639 million, said House Transportation Committee Chairman Pat Brennan. The biggest beneficiaries will be paving projects, interstate highway bridges, state roads and town bridges.

About half the $5 million that will be used to smooth roads comes from money that would have been used to remove snow and spread salt in the winter. The rest comes from projects delayed by Irene in August, which damaged more than 500 mi. of roads and dozens of bridges. The state is able to redirect the funds through a budget adjustment law passed by the Legislature.

In 2009, 34 percent of Vermont’s roads were in “very poor condition.” By last year, the number had dropped to 25 percent.

“We are seeing steady progress in our effort to improve the overall condition of our pavement statewide,” Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said. “The practice of leveling helps us get more life out of existing pavement, reduces the cost of winter maintenance and improves safety for our traveling public.”