The high road, the low road and — soon — the no road
A pothole of yore on Route 5 in Brattleboro.

The high road, the low road and — soon — the no road

In Brattleboro, we are oblivious, insane, or selfish when it comes to prioritizing the maintainance of our roads and the safety of our drivers, our bicyclists, and our pedestrians

BRATTLEBORO — You take the high road, and I'll take the low. May we all get to Bratt's village, safely, in the morning.

Seriously, now. I just had the experience - by myself, with our friends, and with visiting family from afar - of dealing with our roads. I'm not referring to the naturally treacherous frost-heaved dirt roads of March and April. These are rites of passage for locals.

I'm talking about the high-priority routes: Route 9 (Western Avenue and Marlboro Road), Route 5 (Putney Road), and residential roads (Greenhill Parkway, Belmont Avenue, and Cottage Street). I'm talking about driving by car, navigating by bike, and walking and jogging by foot. I dare not include cautious elders or young moms toting little ones on backs, fronts, or strollers.

We are oblivious, insane, or selfish.

Maybe it's Vermont Stubborn. Our roads are on the way to Mad Max post-apocalypse, while we claim to be living in an affluent peacetime.

* * *

I'm very reluctant to slam the dedicated civic public works guys, as I've seen them in action, for specific problems and in general around town.

Actually, I salute them as kind, competent, and responsive - nationals, if not world-class, at road care. In my experience, I've seen road crews at work in Switzerland, New Zealand, and Canada. Vermont? No one comes close. They can do whatever we ask.

Still, for the property taxes we contribute each month, for the residents and visitors we pledge to serve and attract, and for the size of our thriving automotive service industry we have at our disposal, this is a real priority.

We ought to know better.

* * *

The roads are dangerous and treacherous, and we're oblivious. Down Putney Road, drivers go way too fast given the quality of the road and the mix of people in trucks, in cars, on bikes, and on foot.

Last week I got hit from behind at the rotary, while not even moving in my car, by a semi-truck carrying 12 golf carts.

I've experienced a few near misses in the horrible bike lanes on my E-assist bike - all as we claim we are a bike-friendly town and county.

Going over these roads is hazardous in a number of ways, like maneuvering over a giant broken jigsaw puzzle of cement. A day after visitors arrived recently, they got their souvenir: a flat on their brand new tire on either Western or Greenhill. (Thanks, Brattleboro Tire, for getting them back on the road.)

Near my own street, Greenhill Parkway, there remain 21 huge potholes, which we go over jarringly most every day. In rain and snow, they are super dangerous even while going slowly.

This road surface cannot be blamed on an Act of God, or even on God's gift to us of spring frost heaves.

* * *

Within the past few days, I've noticed that one of the most treacherous stretches, downtown up Western Avenue to Chestnut Hill, had gone from terrible to wonderful. I do want to share good works!

Maintaining our roads is such an obvious way to raise our quality of life - with safety and surety - and to keep visitors wanting to return here to our markets, shops and recreational areas.

If we really sincerely and honestly commit to prioritize, rather than frugalize, on our infrastructure, rather than trial each mile, people will totally smile.

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