Vermont’s notorious fifth season — mud season — is in full effect, with some drivers considering 2022 worse than previous years, so far.
“It came on pretty quickly,” said Kristin Toy, who is used to having to dodge ruts and big bumps early each spring on her unpaved road in Starksboro. “Just this week, we got a text that a couple of the roads in Starksboro were impassable, so our buses weren’t able to come pick up the kids.”
It has already been a rough mud season across northern New England.
A school bus in Dixmont, Maine got stuck and needed to be pulled out, according to a tweet from News Center Maine, an NBC affiliate that partners with NECN & NBC10 Boston.
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In Sandwich, New Hampshire, police are calling this year especially bad, and urging people to avoid dirt roads for now, if they can. That plea followed several people getting stuck and needing towing, the police department wrote on Facebook.
In Lebanon, New Hampshire, where road crews have been working this week to stay on top of problems, the public works department told NECN & NBC10 Boston affiliate NBC5 News that weather conditions were just ripe for bad mud.
“Any time you get frost driving deep into the ground, [and] you get that really fast warmup, that will cause this type of mud season,” Everett Hammond of Lebanon Public Works explained in an NBC5 News interview.
According to data from the Vermont Agency of Transportation, Vermont has nearly 7,600 miles of gravel or graded earth roads, so there are lots of places where trouble spots could emerge. That number means there’s more dirt road in the state than paved road.
Because of that prevalence of unpaved roads, many Vermonters view mud season as simply part of life — despite the occasional headaches.
“You just learn to live with it,” said Valerie Gillen of Starksboro. “It’s almost kind of like a badge of honor sometimes: ‘Whose road is the worst?’”
Gillen and Toy both said a silver lining to the mud is that it signals green grass and summer aren’t too far off.
“It’s Vermont in the spring, and it’ll pass in a few weeks,” Gillen said.