By Julia Purdy
MENDON—Work continues along sections of US Route 4 in Mendon and Rutland Town as VTrans crews and contractors repair and replace features of the Route 4 corridor in two spots: the ravine on the west side of Route 4 between Meadow Lake Drive and Wheelerville Road, and at the Norman Rockwell Museum, 654 U.S. Route 4 East.
The job at the Mendon ravine is slated to be completed by the end of September, and the lower Route 4 by the museum is expected to be finished “sometime after Labor Day,” according to Natalie Boyle, project outreach coordinator for Greenman-Pederson, Inc. (GPI), consulting engineers contracted with the state to oversee both projects.
The Mendon ravine is tamed
The work along the Mendon ravine includes installation of a new culvert, stabilization of a ravine, channel work and other highway related items.
A steep, 700-foot long ravine full of huge boulders and broken trees looms above US Route 4 just east of Meadow Lake Drive. Repeated runoff continued to destabilize the slope. The ravine “failed” during Tropical Storm Irene and runoff washed out Route 4 at that point, VTrans project manager Bruce Barton explained.
Rebuilding Route 4 also involved reconstructing the brook’s floodplain—which the torrent widened from 16 feet to 160 feet, and the problem of the ravine was addressed.
The engineering firm Green International of Massachusetts carried out geotechnical engineering and design to stabilize the ravine. The size of the ravine and its steepness required “quite an effort” to come up with a design solution that would work, said Barton. The rocks and debris were cleared from the ravine, its sides were evened out and planted to grass, it was lined with heavy stone to slow runoff and enable percolation into the soil, and a much larger culvert and sediment basin were was added at the foot of the ravine by the highway.
VTrans worked with the Agency of Natural Resources and a geomorphologist to develop the design for streambank rehabilitation in conformance with state clean water standards. Work on the Mendon Brook portion of the project has been completed. Grass has been seeded along the near bank of the brook. Giant boulders line the edges of the new floodplain to protect the streambank and also to furnish habitat and natural ecosystem environments.
The project is anticipated to be complete as of mid-September. The cost: $1,530,146 with a funding split of 90 percent federal and 10 percent state, according to information provided by Natalie Boyle, project outreach coordinator.
Aging retaining wall is rehabilitated
A retaining wall that supports Route 4 is being repaired and stabilized in front of the Norman Rockwell Museum, 654 U.S. Route 4 East. During the week after Labor Day, crews will be placing concrete, which will cure for seven days. Eastbound traffic will be reduced to one lane for the duration of the work; expect delays and some amount of backup when traffic is heavy.
Since the 1940s, U.S. Route 4 in Rutland Town, adjacent to the Norman Rockwell Museum, has been resting on a low, 140-foot laid-up stone retaining wall alongside Tenney Brook, installed during road reconstruction at that time. As the top of the wall has deteriorated, the shoulder of Route 4 has been settling. Now the old wall is being stabilized, according to VTrans. The original plans were found, enabling the wall to be evaluated and rehabilitated.
As of Labor Day, the wall has been faced with concrete and the original, rickety wooden auto bridge across Tenney Brook has been removed and the stream bank stabilized with stone fill. Remaining work includes pouring a concrete cap the length of the wall, letting it cure, and repairing the highway shoulder and eastbound travel lane.
This project needed to be completed in preparation for the next phase next year. Next summer, the state plans to repave Route 4 from Route 4 from Home Depot in Rutland Town to the Skyeship Gondola in Killington, according to Bruce Nichols, general manager for District 3.
The eastbound lane is closed during this project, resulting in westbound traffic backup as far as Post Road, and the westbound lane has been cut through and filled temporarily above a culvert, creating a noticeable bump.
By Julia Purdy