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Route 12A washes out after flooding in Plainfield

  • DOT officials inspect a washout that closed the southbound lane of Route 12A in Plainfield, just north of the intersection with River Road due to the Connecticut River scouring away at the bank under the roadway Monday. James M. Patterson / Valley News

Valley News
Published: 4/23/2019 5:45:01 PM

A portion of the Connecticut riverbank off Route 12A in Plainfield washed out on Sunday afternoon, undercutting the integrity of the roadway near the intersection with River Road and plucking the guardrail from its soil.

Nearly a dozen state Department of Transportation workers assessed the 150 feet of “affected area” on Monday afternoon and discussed how to repair the damage that may have been caused by recent rain events and snowmelt, said District Engineer Doug King.

“It looks like the river might have washed out the bottom of the it,” King said, causing the riverbank to erode away and bring with it material from under the roadway.

The pavement cracked and rippled, so workers closed off the southbound travel lane and installed concrete barriers. They planned to install lights on both sides of the site as well.

The southbound lane will remain closed for the next few weeks while workers shore up the bank and repair the roadway, King said. The damaged portion of the roadway sits just north of Riverbend Veterinary Clinic in Plainfield, near the Lebanon town line.

The department still is assessing just how much damage occurred. To fix the washout, King said workers likely will dig up the loose material and fill the bank with stone. He estimated the cost of the repairs to be between $40,000 and $50,000.

“The fix should be pretty straightforward,” King said.

DOT workers, including survey specialists and geotechnical engineers, canvassed the site on Monday, walking with caution as they approached a large hole in the pavement. Near it, the guardrail dangled as its posts were ripped from the ground when the bank eroded.

The erosion is “not uncommon,” King said. When a river runs close to a roadway, especially when the road sits much higher in elevation than the river, the area can be susceptible to a washout, he said.

Monday wasn’t the first time the Department of Transportation has had to patch the bank along Route 12A, he said. A significant event he recalled was during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Meanwhile, Vermont residents continue to recover from flooding that damaged roads and washed away small bridges and culverts last week. Snowmelt in Vermont’s higher elevations coupled with rainfall of up to 1¼ inches led to the flooding, the Vermont Emergency Operations Center said.

Route 5 between Wells River village and Newbury village still is closed. There also is roadside work on Interstate 91 in Bradford as well as on Route 302 in Wells River and Route 5 in Fairlee, said Brent Curtis, a spokesman for the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

New Hampshire Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton said he didn’t have any additional information about other roads on the New Hampshire side of the Upper Valley being impacted by recent rain or weather events.

In Plainfield, traffic will alternate using the northbound lane until workers complete the repairs. During busy times, the state may bring in a flagger to help move traffic along.

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