Vermont Road Network

By | October 13, 2022

Vermont’s Interstate Highway Network.

Vermont has a fairly extensive road network for the size of the population, partly due to tourism. Traveling on the secondary road network can be quite time consuming due to the hilly nature of the state.

Road management

The state highway authority is the Vermont Agency of Transportation, abbreviated VTrans. It has its origins in the Highway Commission of 1892. The Department of Highways was established in 1923. VTrans was created in 1979 by merging several agencies. VTrans manages 4,355 kilometers of state highway and 1,089 bridges.

  • Bittranslators: State overview of Vermont, including geography, economy, population and history as well as introduction to major cities of Vermont.

Interstate Highways

Vermont has three main routes of Interstate Highways, Interstate 89 as a diagonal route in the center and north of the state, from White River Junction through the state capital Montpelier and Burlington to the border with Canada, and Interstate 91 as a north-south route along the Connecticut River and thus the New Hampshire border and the northern end of Interstate 93 at St. Johnsbury. Interstate 189 is a short spur in Burlington.

Vermont’s highways all have 2×2 lanes and traffic is quite low, especially in the northern part of the state. I-89 is part of the route from Boston to Montreal and therefore has the most importance for international traffic. I-91 primarily handles traffic to Sherbrooke and the city of Québec in eastern Québec Province.

  • Deluxesurveillance: Nickname of Vermont as The Green Mountain State. Also covers geography, history, economy, politics and administration of the state.

US Highways

Only five US Highways pass through Vermont. US 2 hooks through northern Vermont, but parallels I-89 west of Montpelier. The road has some importance for through traffic between Montpelier and St Johnsbury. US 4 forms an east-west route through the south of the state and is briefly a freeway between the New York and Rutland borders. US 5 forms a north-south route along the Connecticut River, with I-91 paralleling it for its entire length, so the road has little through traffic. US 7 forms a north-south route in the west of the state and is a grade-separated super two between Bennington and Manchester. North of Burlington, I-89 parallels it. US 302 forms an east-west route in the east of the state, from Montpelier to the New Hampshire border at Woodsville. This is somewhat of a secondary route, the slightly more northerly US 2 is a more important east-west route.

State Highways

Vermont has a network of state highways that connect all towns and cities. These are almost exclusively two-lane roads, only short sections of State Route 15 in Burlington and State Route 62 near Montpelier are 2×2 divided highways. The state highways are also referred to as a ‘Vermont Route’ or ‘VT XX’. These routes are managed by the municipalities in built-up areas. Some Vermont Routes are wholly administered by municipalities. The road number runs from 2 to 346, but many numbers are skipped. In addition, there are also named state highways, which have an administrative four-digit number in the 9000 series, these are reference routes.

Vermont has a unique road number shield not used in other states. Before 1995, the generic ‘circle sign’ used in several states was used. Routes that are wholly managed by municipalities have not made this adjustment and are still signposted with the circle sign from before 1995. It concerns only a small number of routes. Old circle signs from before 1995 have only been replaced after more than 20 years.

Toll roads

Vermont has no toll roads and never has. There are also no plans to build toll roads.

History

I-89 between Montpelier and Burlington.

As early as 1892, the Highway Commission was established, with roads becoming a state matter. Traditionally, roads were managed and developed by the counties and municipalities. In 1898, the State Highway Commission was established to oversee the first state dollars for road construction. Between 1906 and 1923, state-owned roads were constructed almost entirely as dirt or gravel roads. Only 72 kilometers of asphalted road were built during that period, which was extended by 58 kilometers between 1923 and 1926. In 1923, the State Highway Department was established, tasked with developing Vermont’s highway network. From the 1920s, additional federal money became available for the development of the US Highways in particular which were introduced in 1926. In addition, a fuel tax was introduced in 1923 to pay for the road network.

In 1931, 1,600 kilometers of road were included in the state highway plan and in 1935 another 1,100 kilometers followed, laying the foundation for today’s state highway system. This network was then asphalted in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. In 1964 Vermont had only 60 miles of gravel road as part of the state highways system.

When planning its later high-end highway network in 1944, Vermont preferred to upgrade US 7 through the west of the state as its primary north-south route, while Massachusetts wanted to upgrade US 5 as a north-south connection further east. In 1945, a compromise was made that largely took the form of today’s I-89 and I-91. Vermont wanted a third route, an east-west connection from New York via Rutland to White River Junction, where there would be a junction of highways in 5 directions.

Vermont’s first highway was 10 miles from Interstate 91 in the deep south of the state, namely at the Massachusetts border, which opened on November 1, 1958. Most of Vermont’s highway network was built fairly quickly in the 1960s. In 1964, 117 kilometers of Interstate Highway had been opened. By 1965, I-89 was completed from Montpelier to north of Burlington, including I-189, and I-91 from the Massachusetts border to Ascutney, and the section further to White River Junction was under construction.

Vermont’s road network had almost been expanded to its current condition in the early 1970s. After that, investments decreased and later the condition of the road network started to deteriorate significantly. After 2000, more than a third of the state highways were in poor condition, but this has decreased significantly due to renovations between 2009 and 2015. Between 2008 and 2015, the number of bridges that were ‘structurally deficient’ was reduced from 494 to 193.

Vermont Road Network