I-19 Southbound Closure Coming

I-91 ClosureNEWBURY - A portion of Interstate 91 southbound between exits 17 and 18 will be closed in April for the purpose of regular ledge maintenance. The project has raised concerns for emergency services as travel times will be impacted if they are not able to use that section of the interstate.

For the three week duration of the project, southbound traffic will be detoured off exit 18 southbound onto Brimson Drive, then onto Route 5, to 302 and then back onto I-91. the detour brings the 10-minute drive between the two exits to a 20-minute drive. Emergency Responders, including state police and ambulance services are concerned that by being routed off I-91 with regular traffic, their response times and transport times are going to be effected. They have raised the question of whether or not they will be able to pass through the closed section of the interstate instead of taking the longer, and potentially traffic heavy detour.

Bruce Martin, the VTrans project manager, responded to some of these concerns at a meeting with members of the public in Newbury on Wednesday night. Martin expressed that there may be a possibility for emergency services to communicate with the contractors to allow for safe emergency travel along the closed portion. "As soon as something happens, letting the contractor know. Early communication is the best, so communication is going to be the key for this." Martin continued, "Obviously we don't like shutting down the interstate for these reasons, but for the interest of the safety of the traveling public, it's what we have to do."

The project itself is to decrease the likelihood of loose rocks falling off of the ledge and kicking out onto the interstate. To remove the loose rocks from the ledges, workers have to repel down the sides of them and hand remove anything that may become dislodged or is already loose. While doing this, debris from the ledges falls into the roadway to be cleaned up when the project is done. This debris would have to be removed from the roadway prior to it being able to be safely traveled by emergency vehicles.

Martin said that the start date for the project at this time is April 15th, but that date has the possibility of changing due to weather. But he said that once the road is closed it will take three weeks for the project to be completed before the roadway will be reopened.