Delays expected as Route 125 at the Middlebury Gap is rebuilt

HANCOCK — A major summer road reconstruction project is under way on Route 125 between the Middlebury Snow Bowl and Route 100 in Hancock. Driver should expect some delays and cyclists are warned of difficult road conditions.
Construction crews will be working throughout the summer excavating 6.5 miles of road surface and correcting roadway deficiencies. As a result of this work, the condition of the road will consist of a mix of gravel and paved surfaces. 
Road reclamation, shoulder and excavation operations will require lane closures and alternating one-way traffic around the construction segments. Flaggers will be present to assist in maintaining traffic flow.
VTrans is reminding drivers to remain in the lane they were directed to until they come to another traffic control person at the other end of the active construction zone. Often there are workers and equipment throughout the active construction zone that motorists cannot see and are unaware of. Switching travel lanes while in the active construction zone is hazardous both to those working and to the motorist.
At times the length of the active work zone can seem very long.
Drivers are warned to exercise extreme caution on granular surfaced roadways in a work zone, maintain a safe distance between vehicles and obey the speed limit. Punctured tires and windshield damage could occur if material flies up from the surface of the road.
Natalie A. Boyle, outreach coordinator for the project, explained that crews started milling the road surface about a quarter of a mile west of the Middlebury Gap and are moving eastward.
“They are working their way ‘down’ the hill toward Hancock, and the gravel will remain gravel until such time as they are ready to begin paving operations,” she said. “In some ways, the dirt portions of the road are in better condition than the milled or old, existing road surfaces. Folks can expect a mix of just about anything except fresh pavement for some time.”
It was unknown exactly when paving will begin, but Boyle estimated that it could begin in late July or early August.
Boyle is advising bicyclists who are planning to ride over the Middlebury Gap to be aware that roadway will not be optimal until after the paving is done.
“Coming from the Hancock side, one pretty much can figure out what they are in for as the road turns to gravel almost immediately after turning onto Route 125 from Route 100,” she said, noting that conditions will more gravel than paved surfaces until later in the summer.
“Some folks will choose to ride those conditions anyway, but others may choose an alternate route as a result,” Boyle added.
The Vermont Gran Fondo, which stages an annual bike ride over the mountain gaps in Addison County, this year shifted the route of its June 4 ride north to encompass the Appalachian and Lincoln gaps, plus a loop through Northfield and Waitsfield.
This week the main location of work scheduled will be performed on the upper portion of the construction zone, or approximately the first 1.5 miles of the road. Crews will continue to work on the curves in the road that need corrections in elevations, making sure the road has the correct pitch throughout the curves. This work is scheduled for completion by Wednesday, weather permitting.
Once completed, crews will begin a process of placing dry cement in the sub-surface of the roadway. Placing of cement may take several weeks. The purpose of this is to create a solid foundation for the road surface.
Work is being concentrated at the top of the pass in order to help alleviate maintenance problems on the steepest parts of the hill. Please note that crews will still be placing gravel on the rest of the roadway throughout the project. Without the large grade change on lower portions of the mountain, the gravel will stay better and allow for easier travel. Travel will continue to be on a loose gravel surface for some time.
Work on the Route 125 reclamation project will be done during daytime, typically between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Periodic updates will be put online at www.facebook.com/RutlandCityProctor2014.

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