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Construction on I-89 to continue until November 30

SOUTH BURLINGTON -- Commuters should note that as of last week one of Vermonts busiest stretches of highway will be under construction well into November. All four lanes of traffic along Interstate 89 will run together on the along the northbound side of the highway, in between Burlington and South Burlington. The purpose of the construction is to replace a 45-year-old culvert that no longer functions properly and comprises the safety of the roadways. Once workers have unearthed the culvert on the southbound side, work will switch to the northbound side. Officials at the Agency of Transportation said that work should finish sometime around the end of November. The project was scheduled to begin in the spring of 2008, but the condition of the existing culvert was deteriorating at a more rapid pace than the original estimate suggested. Officials also noted the high traffic density along this travel corridor as a reason for working on the project in three sections. Officials from VTrans noted that four lanes must remain open during peak hours to allow traffic to flow through at a consistent pace. Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., four lanes will be kept open, but during the night, lane reductions will be necessary so that work crews can set up on the actual roadway. During November, the speed limit will be reduced to 45 mph at all times, for the safety of those working on the culvert. VTrans also reminds the public the fines for speeding in a work zone. The condition of the culvert is beyond repair, according to VTrans secretary Neale Lunderville. A program introduced last year -- called Road to Affordability -- aimed to implement cost-effective preservation of the State;s transportation assets over costly replacement, but in this case the more prudent road to follow is that of replacement. However, Lunderville told the media that this situation should be used as an example, not a point of failure for the program. If repair work had begun several years ago, the likely cost of the construction would have been between $200,000 and $300,000, according to Lunderville. The project, as it stands now, will cost the state upwards of $2 million. Lunderville said that the culvert project is an example of the need to place more emphasis on preventive maintenance. Despite the four lanes that will be available during day-time hours, motorists are encouraged to plan for longer travel times because of the reduced speed along I-89. Furthermore, VTrans is reminding motorists to practice safe driving. Cell phone use is discouraged and driving at a safe distance from the car in front is a must.

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