State Government

VTrans resorts to chicanery to stop Smugglers Notch stuckages

By Guy Page

The Vermont Agency of Transportation plans to install “chicanes” – a series of road-narrowing barriers – to stop truck stuckages in Smugglers Notch, the News & Citizen reported October 12.

Every year, several tractor-trailers – most driven by out-of-state drivers apparently unfamiliar with the already narrow, serpentine state highway running through the scenic Notch – become stuck, requiring a tow-truck to remove them and stopping thru traffic from Stowe to Cambridge. 

The Notch is closed for fall/winter but will reopen in spring. When it does, the proposed chicanes will be installed on both the Cambridge and Stowe sides of the Notch, on a two-year experimental basis.

“The barriers are intended to mimic the constricting nature of the boulders that ensare any tractor-trailer trucks that dare to ignore the copious signage warming drivers against entering the Notch, allowing trucks to turn around without causing the sometimes hour-long closures that currently occur,” reporter Aaron Calvin wrote in the News & Citizen, the longtime Lamoille County weekly newspaper. 

The choice of chicanes followed lengthy brainstorming of many options and a driver survey that drew more than 300 respondents. VTrans considered and rejected roundabouts and a restrictive arch.

If a truck does get stuck, chicanes – unlike the truck-arresting boulders at the peak of the notch – can be moved. The boulders are the result rockslides that occurred when cliff faces, weakened by water, plunged into the notch below. The most recent major rockslide occurred in the early 1980’s. 

The year-by-year tally of stuckages is as follows, according to the News & Citizen: four so far this yer, five in 2022, six in 2021, and 12 each in 2013, 2014, 2017 – tied for the record-high. Officials credit the reduction to better GPS, law-enforcement coordination, and signage. 

Categories: State Government

6 replies »

  1. Under NO circumstances should the topography at the top of the Notch be modified just to allow the passage of large trucks. The taxpayers have dished out plenty to provide signage that is MORE THAN adequate to warn of the situation. It seems obvious that there is a standing challenge in the trucker community to see who will be the first pioneer to be able to bring their 53-footer through the Notch. The significant fines have not stopped it either and unless the physical chicane barrier is constructed of a material that will absolutely shred an oversized vehicle, it will be just an inconvenience for all drivers, creating a traffic jam and a major construction project and expense on each side without solving the problem. A few bushes and traffic cones will not do it.

    • The chicane barrier was suggested at least six months ago in one of the Vermont newspapers. Now it is probably some Vermont employee’s super idea.

  2. Somewhere out there there’s a driver that’s going to say……Hold my beer and watch this. If those are going to work you better make them 4 ft tall otherwise it’s just a challenge

  3. It might be reasonable to simply start revoking licenses of the driver. draconian fines and impounding the vehicles involved.