George Ouellette, photo
MONTPELIER —Public safety officials were keeping wary eyes on an ice jam in the Winooski River here this weekend as all across the state a January thaw created concerns about possible flooding.
The ice jam had not yet obstructed key bridges near the state capital but was becoming a concern as the city has experienced damaging floods under similar conditions previously.
Road conditions became so bad on portions of Interstate 89 over the weekend that closures occurred and police advised motorists to find other ways to their destinations or remain home.
There were no reports of road closures due to ice jams along the Missisquoi River in Franklin County, but ice was being pushed onto the shoreline in areas where flooding generally develops.
Flooding had closed several roads in Essex and Richmond. Some businesses reported flooding.
Vermont State Police (VSP) at 5 a.m. Saturday said multiple traffic accidents and contributing ice roads were reported in Chittenden and Washington counties.
About 90 minutes later I-89 was closed near the Berlin exit due to an accident. Police said hardest hit areas at about 8 a.m. included U.S. 2 and the interstate in the Bolton/Waterbury area, as well as parts of Route 100.
At the same time, the interstate between exits 10 at Waterbury and 11 at Richmond remained closed due to icing. Cars were reported off the road there and Agency of Transportation and local fire departments responded to the multiple wrecks.
As of noon Saturday traffic conditions had improved as several state and local agencies cleared the roads.
At about 1:40 p.m. Saturday, Vermont State Police in St. Albans warned commuters of potentially hazardous road conditions on Interstate 89 as well as surrounding roadways.
“Due to the significant amount of rain fall, there has been a dramatic increase in standing water on the roadway,” said a VSP statement. “We currently have troopers on scene with an accident where the level of standing water was a factor.”
At 6:30 p.m. VSP requested people not travel unless absolutely necessary. The roadways had become extremely icy and hazardous. At that point in time Interstate 89 southbound between exit 11 (Richmond) and exit 10 (Waterbury) was closed, as was Route 2 from Richmond to Waterbury.
Flooded sections of road on Sunday included Route 2 in Jonesville and North Williston Road in the area of Route 117 in the town of Essex.
Public safety and transportation officials continued to keep an eye on potential flooding today.