Montpelier Shoppers Invited to Imagine Repaving’s End

Contest winners to receive free parking for a year

Vermont’s capital city has long been infamous for the poor quality of its roads. And while the municipal budget often gets blamed for the parlous state of city streets—as when the controversial un-paving of Bliss Road received national notice last year—Montpelier sits at the intersection of two state highways: Route 2 and Route 12, known locally as State and Main. And while the Statehouse is responsible for the care of those roads, everything under them (stormwater, sewer, and utilities) falls to City Hall.

As a result, the capital’s main thoroughfares have fallen further into ruin in successive freeze-thaw cycles as the City of Montpelier has struggled to complete long-deferred infrastructure repair. Finally, with the coming of spring 2017, VTrans has commenced work on re-paving State and Main with $4 million of “use it or lose it” money from the Federal government.

In order to minimize the impact of detours to an intersection that saw over seven thousand cars a day in 2015, a waiver to the noise ordinance was approved so that work could proceed from 7pm to 7am. And so, city residents have begun adjusting to the sounds of milling and paving machines throughout the night, just as open-window season begins.

Downtown businesses, fearing shoppers’ headlong flight from the chaos, have tried to put a brave face on things. The Montpelier Business Association and Montpelier Alive, the downtown community organization, launched a promotional campaign to frame the construction and dislocation as a sort of facelift. As part of the “Makeover Montpelier” campaign, businesses are holding a “Guess the Completion Date of Downtown Paving” contest, with shoppers invited to imagine a time when all this is behind us. The entrant with the closest guess will win a year of free parking downtown.

With the increasing number of vacant storefronts downtown, it’s to be hoped that the contest winner will still have a reason to enjoy their winnings.