Bicyclist dies on closed road in Brattleboro
BRATTLEBORO -- A bicyclist died Sunday after crossing a barrier and riding on a road that was closed due to damage from Tropical Storm Irene.
The Brattleboro Police Department said they responded to a closed portion of Williams Street at around 9:30 a.m. to find the man had crashed his bike into the Whetstone Brook.
The man, whose name is being withheld pending notification of relatives, was unresponsive at the scene.
"We are pleading with people to pay attention to road signs. When you see a road is closed, it means it is closed," said Brattleboro Town Manager Barbara Sondag following the announcement. "Now we have one more family that has to deal with a terrible tragedy, and it could have been prevented."
The town did not release many details about the accident Sunday.
Sondag did say the body was not that of 17-year-old Marble Arvidson, who has been missing since the day of the storm.
Weather forecasters are calling for periods of rain, with potentially heavy downpours, over the next few days, and Sondag said there are roads all over town that remain dangerous, and could possibly worsen if more rain falls.
She said the bicyclist crossed barriers and was riding on a street where he should not have been.
"People really need to be cautious. We have a long way to go before we are through this," said Sondag. "We need to be safe and we need to help each other."
All over Windham County, crews are working overtime to open roads, but many remain closed, and some bridges could be shut down for a long time as engineers determine if they are safe.
The Vermont National Guard announced Saturday that 200 engineers from Maine will be joining members of the 131st Engineers to help reestablish passable roadways and help determine the safety of bridges that were damaged in the storm.
"We now are fully engaged in the recovery phase of making our roadways passable so that Vermonters can gain mobility throughout the areas affected by this terrible storm," Vermont's Adjutant General Michael Dubie said.
Meanwhile, Vermont Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said the public should stay away from construction sites and closed roadways as workers try to piece Vermont back together following Irene's historic destruction.
"All we are asking is for people to stay away from the damaged areas if you don't live there," Searles said. "We are racing against the clock to get these roads ready for winter and we are going to manage these sites to accomplish that goal."
Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Wrinn said the bicyclist was in an area that was not safe, and Wrinn said there are similar barriers and cones all over town that have to be respected.
"People have to pay attention to these. They are there for public safety," said Wrinn. "It will take a while to rebuild and recover. Everyone is trying to get the system up as soon as they can."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 279.
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