Patience is a virtue. And this year, people who live in this part of Vermont became highly virtuous. Through the turmoil of 2019 highway construction and reconstruction, they really didn’t have much choice.
• Route 100 was all ripped up between Waterbury and Stowe for the second straight year; work went on all day and especially all night, and drivers often had no choice but to sit and wait until this giant grader or that giant dump truck moved out of travel lanes. The $20 million project dug out the entire roadbed of the busy state highway, then rebuilt it from scratch.
In some ways, Waterbury’s Main Street reconstruction project is like the movie “What Lies Beneath.” It’s not a supernatural horror story, but …
• A big section of Main Street in Waterbury was all ripped up in the first year of a three-year wholesale makeover of the street. Not only is the entire street being torn out and then rebuilt, but antique water and sewer lines are being replaced and utility wires are being moved underground. All that will cost about $21 million.
Roads are like the weather: People complain about them. The road is too bumpy/rutted/slick/potholed. And then, when the road’s being fixed, people complain about the dust, the noise, the lit-up-like-a-runway night-construction zone and, most of all, the waiting. We had more than our share of waiting in 2019, but it had a benefit: We learned patience. What choice did we have?
• Main Street in Stowe was all ripped up for a two-phase project — replacement of deteriorating downtown sidewalks, and burial of conduits beneath the new sidewalks. Next year, all those unsightly wires dangling from utility poles along what is otherwise one of the most scenic main streets in Vermont will be moved into the underground conduits. Total cost: $6.6 million.
While the rest of Lamoille County didn’t have a project like Stowe’s Main Street makeover, there were plenty of long traffic backups in 2019 w…
• North of Waterbury, traffic backups were frequent and lengthy while Route 15 in Morristown and Wolcott was repaved, and half a dozen major streets in Morrisville were milled down and paved.
• An intense Halloween rainstorm attacked weak points on local roads and state highways. Many problems could be repaired quickly, but others required major attention and some places — such as Route 100 in Eden — still aren’t fixed. This area has qualified for federal aid to help deal with the disasters; details and numbers are still being worked out.
These projects accomplished several things.
First, after the work is done, smooth, efficient roadways will minimize the likelihood of sinkholes, potholes, ruts in the asphalt, blown tires and wheel alignment problems — not to mention the cracked windshields from trucks flipping up stones from construction zones.
Second, once utility wires are buried in the village centers of Stowe and Waterbury, the downtown areas will become more open and scenic, and electrical, telephone and digital services will become far less susceptible to the ravages of winter storms.
Third, people learned to bide their time, to be patient, to avoid raising their blood pressure over inevitable traffic delays. Lots of people became acquainted with features on their cellphones that they’d never taken time to explore. Others made long-overdue phone calls to friends and relatives. Others drank in the extraordinary topography of Vermont — light casting shadows on mountain ranges, hilly montages, the way the trees changed as the seasons advanced.
The petty irritations of construction-related traffic delays will soon pass, but let’s hope the sense of inner peace will linger.