Route 125 set for major repaving project

EAST MIDDLEBURY — Work crews this week were scheduled to begin more than $5 million in resurfacing work on a substantial segment of Route 125 in East Middlebury, Ripton and Hancock.
The work will involve more than 9.5 miles of the designated scenic highway, a stretch that begins at the intersection of Route 7 South and spans through East Middlebury Village, all the way through Ripton village and up to the entrance of the Middlebury College Snow Bowl.
John Zicconi, director of planning, outreach and community affairs for the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), noted the Route 125 work is part of a list of Addison County projects included in Vermont’s fiscal year 2011 Transportation Bill. The Addison Independent described those projects in detail in its Thursday, May 6, issue.
Zicconi said motorists should expect some traffic delays for the duration of the project, expected to conclude by early November. One-way traffic will be allowed to ensure circulation is maintained through what is a well-traveled road for tourists, bikers and truckers, according to Zicconi.
The first few miles (from the Route 7 intersection) of the Route 125 project will involve a more conventional resurfacing technique that Zicconi described as leveling off the existing pavement, filing in holes, putting on a surface treatment, followed by shoulder-to-shoulder repaving.
At a point just past the Waybury Inn, where Route 125 takes some sharp turns, workers will undertake a more elaborate procedure for the balance of the project, except for a half-mile stretch in Ripton Village.
Zicconi said that more elaborate procedure will involve grinding the existing pavement to a depth of up to a foot, stabilizing the road bed, then applying two thick layers of pavement on top of that base.
The half-mile stretch through Ripton Village will get a more conventional resurfacing to ensure that Route 125 does not become so elevated in that area that it would disrupt driveways that feed into the road, Zicconi said.
VTrans picked FW Whitcomb Construction Co. to do the Route 125 work following a competitive bidding process. The company won both segments, with bids of $1,620,998 for the 3.1-mile segment in Middlebury and $3,711,551 for the 6.5-mile stretch in Ripton and Hancock.
State transportation officials are hoping the upcoming paving project provides some stability for a stretch of road that seems prone to rapid deterioration. Sections of Route 125 in East Middlebury, Ripton and Hancock have been hammered hard in recent years by flooding from the contiguous Middlebury River.
“This section of road is susceptible to deterioration fundamentally because it is a non-engineered roadway,” Zicconi said. “Vermont is full of roadbeds that were once nothing more than horse or cow paths that have grown into paved roadways without the benefit of the roadbed below being engineered properly to handle the kind of modern traffic that it now carries.”
As a result, Zicconi said, the roadbed is vulnerable to frost and moisture action because supporting soils often lack adequate engineered drainage.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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