Interstate 89 in Georgia, 2-5-2020

VTrans is looking to fast track the replacement of a damaged culvert on Interstate 89 near Georgia.

GEORGIA – The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is fast-tracking replacing a culvert on Interstate 89 near Georgia where damage from last year’s Halloween storm has created several sinkholes and closed a northbound travel lane.

According to Dave Blackmore, VTrans’s senior manger in the district charged with overseeing state roads in Franklin County, VTrans was looking to replace the culvert, located near Exit 18 in Georgia, sometime in the immediate future.

“We’re putting this in a fast lane and we’re in hopes to be able to implement that process real soon,” Blackmore said. “Probably, within a few weeks here, construction will begin.”

According to Blackmore, the storm had severely damaged a culvert beneath Interstate 89’s northbound lanes, resulting in sinkholes along the road’s shoulder that ultimately led VTrans to close the highway’s rightmost lane traveling north.

VTrans had been monitoring the culvert since the storm, according to Blackmore, but held off on making any repairs until a different culvert funneling water under Interstate 89’s southbound off ramp in Georgia had been replaced.

“We have been monitoring that culvert and recently noticed some changes and some minor sinkholes out in the shoulder,” Blackmore said. “It’s prompted us to become more concerned about the condition of that pipe, and that concern that we have is the most noticeable in that northbound lane.”

Replacing the off ramp’s culvert, likewise damaged by flooding from Halloween’s storms, had closed the ramp for nearly two months. The ramp was reopened in late December.

If left unaddressed, Blackmore said the threat posed by the growing sinkholes along Interstate 89’s shoulder could spread to the highway’s other northbound lane. “There’s a good chance that things may be growing here,” Blackmore said.

According to Blackmore, VTrans was preparing a meeting with local officials next week to discuss the work needed to replace that culvert.

While VTrans was still working on how to reroute traffic while construction closes the lane and was still working on redesigning the culvert, Blackmore said the state’s transportation agency would likely have more information available ahead of that meeting.

“We don’t have a definitive plan on that right now but we expect to have more news next week,” Blackmore said.

In the meantime, per Blackmore, “we won’t be putting traffic onto that lane until the culvert is replaced.”

According to state officials, the Halloween storm brought more than $6 million in damages to public infrastructure in eight Vermont counties and left 370 individual Vermonters reporting personal damages as a result of the storm and subsequent flooding.

Last month, Vermont received a federal disaster declaration for damage from the Halloween storm, opening up federal assistance for reimbursing repairs made in the storm’s wake.

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