We get lots of questions from readers for this column, which is awesome. You spot a local mystery; we try to figure it out. But with just 26 columns a year, we can't get to them all. Also, some of the questions are total stumpers, some we've already answered in previous issues, and some make us wonder why the sender didn't just look it up online. Seriously, people, you can use Google as well as we can. Promise.
For this final column of the year, we thought we'd share a sampling of questions we received in 2014 that fall into the most popular category. Let's call it Streets and Roads. For one reason or another, we haven't answered them ... yet. But we're sharing them with you below.
(Note to the Vermont Agency of Transportation: Motorists are puzzled out there. And you thought cellphones were a safety hazard.)
- What happened to the signs marking the highest elevation on Interstate 89 in Vermont (i.e., evidence that you had moved from the Connecticut River watershed to Lake Champlain's, or vice versa)? They were in Brookfield but I haven't seen them in at least a decade.
- What about the exit-numbering system, sequential versus more common/standard way of using mile markers?
- Between mile markers 67.0 and 68.0, there used to be some green, vertical, shutter-like boards standing up in a (mile-long) row between the northbound lane of I-89 and Route 2. I believe their purpose was to block headlight brightness from one road to interfere with the other; they certainly performed that task splendidly. These barriers are all gone now — WTF?
- Since I-89 connects to I-189, and I-189 connects to the south end of Dorset Street, why no access to and from the south end of Dorset Street to and from I-89 via Exit 13? Seems it would relieve much of the congestion in the clusterfuck at Exit 14 by those who could take Kennedy Drive and bypass Williston Road.
- I know the salt's bad for the car and bad for my dog's little paws, but how bad is it? I'm curious to know what the environmental impact of all this salt is, how much is used every year and if the benefit of using salt above other substances outweighs the negative impacts.
- I've been wondering WTF is going on with the state of Vermont and its sudden lack of a dead-roadside-critter detail. There was once a time when the deceased skunks, raccoons and the like were picked up within hours of a call, if they didn't find them themselves. Now, even deer seem to be left nearly where they fell. The only exceptions seem to be when there is guts everywhere, and even then it's just pushed to the side of the road. It's horrifyingly gross. Is this the image we want to convey to tourists? Hell, I'm grossed out and I was raised here ... and I'm an EMT!
- WTF is up with cars being allowed to parallel park on the wrong side of a two-way street in Burlington? I've been here for years and never understood how it is legal here, when it is illegal everywhere else in the world. It is always totally unsafe, sketchy and random when a car pulls across the center line in search of a parking spot. There are some nightmare spots in town where the bike lane is in the "door zone" of all the cars, and the wrong-way car drivers can never see bikes in the lane (let alone cars coming in the right direction) when they try to pull out of their spot, blind, across the lane going the wrong way.
- (1) Why does the interchange where I-89 meets I-91 in White River Junction have no number? It is the only unnumbered exit in the entire U.S. Interstate System that I can recall coming across. Every other time two interstates meet, the exit has its proper number on each separate highway, but from 89 getting onto 91, there is no number. When the roads were built, did someone just forget, and start the numbering up the road at Quechee?
(2) When is Vermont going to enter the 21st century and renumber our interstate exits by mile marker? That would, of course, fix the problem in No. 1. The exit onto 91 would become Exit 1, and the Quechee/Woodstock exit would become Exit 3 (or whatever the mileage is). I vaguely recall hearing that the legislature was considering this, and I noticed that when they replaced all the signage a few years ago, they wisely put the exit-number signs on separate, replaceable boards below the signs with the town names. That raised some hopes, but nothing has come of it.
- I travel the state a fair amount and have noticed dozens of roadside places to fill water from sources that have been developed via a flowing pipe, but none is as consistently busy as the one just south of Hardwick on Route 14. I hardly ever go by there when someone isn't filling jugs at the 1896 granite trough and pipe. What's the history of it? Why is this one so incredibly popular?
- The sign put up this spring where Gore Road (in Buels Gore) comes out onto Route 17 East (going over the Appalachian Gap): 'Number of Days Since Last Motorcycle Accident:_____.' Who put it there and why?
Whoever has answers to any of these, do let us know. And keep your WTF questions coming!