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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Freeze/Thaw Cycles Damage Vermont Roads, Prove Costly For VTrans

A stretch of road in Plymouth, Vermont, with a 35 miles per hour speed limit sign on the right and a car approaching in the distance.
Emily Corwin
/
VPR
A stretch of road in Plymouth, Vermont. When moisture gets into cracks then freezes, it causes potholes and frost heaves. According to the Vermont Agency of Transportation, it's been a particularly bad year for this.

This winter's freeze/thaw cycles have been hard on Vermont roads. That's because when moisture gets into cracks then freezes, it causes potholes and frost heaves.

According to Vermont Agency of Transportation, it's been a particularly bad year for this. And cold patch — the material used to temporarily seal roads in the winter — is expensive, according to VTrans Maintenance Director Todd Law.

"We allocated almost $20 million this year for winter maintenance, and we're running $5-to-6 million over," said Law. Now, he said the department is trying to find that money elsewhere in the transportation budget.

The challenge, Law said, is to find that money elsewhere in the budget without infringing on paving — because sealed roads aren't as vulnerable.

The Federal Highway Administration lists freeze/thaw cycles as an impact of climate change, and recommends increased staff and resources to address it.

Emily Corwin reported investigative stories for VPR until August 2020. In 2019, Emily was part of a two-newsroom team which revealed that patterns of inadequate care at Vermont's eldercare facilities had led to indignities, injuries, and deaths. The consequent series, "Worse for Care," won a national Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting, and placed second for a 2019 IRE Award. Her work editing VPR's podcast JOLTED, about an averted school shooting, and reporting NHPR's podcast Supervision, about one man's transition home from prison, made her a finalist for a Livingston Award in 2019 and 2020. Emily was also a regular reporter and producer on Brave Little State, helping the podcast earn a National Edward R. Murrow Award for its work in 2020. When she's not working, she enjoys cross country skiing and biking.
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