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VTrans plans big local highway projects part one

RUTLAND Vermont Agency of Transportation Secretary Neale Lunderville announced last week that VTrans in 2008 will spend about $130 million on road, bridge, culvert and highway safety construction projects statewide. Construction projects vary in size and scope, and include everything from safety improvements and intersection upgrades to roadway paving and bridge reconstruction. Locally, the Rutland Tribune presents a contuning series on this summer Route 7 highway project. Construction will create traffic delays during much of the summer months, so prepare alternate routes to save time. The general purpose of the Rutland County highway project is to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety, as well as to enhance mobility along U.S. Route 7 through the towns of Pittsford and Brandon. Route 7 has been designated as part of the Nations National Highway System (NHS). The NHS consists of this countrys most significant transportation corridors in regard to interstate and inter-regional travel. Route 7 provides a critical geographic and economic link for the people and goods being transported through the western part of the state. The project area encompasses rural and village settings from kilometer (km) 2.25 (Mile Marker or MM 1.40) in Pittsford (1.40 miles north of the Rutland/Pittsford town line) to km 8.67 (MM 5.39) in Brandon (approximately 0.1 miles south of the Brandon Village line). The total project length is 16.9 km (10.58 miles), 9.7 km (6.1 miles) in Pittsford and 7.2 km (4.5 miles) in Brandon. The rural sections are marked by sparse residential and commercial development along with a typical 80 kilometer/hour (km/h); 50 miles per hours (mph) posted speed limit. Pittsford and Brandon are developed, have more pedestrian activity, and have on-street parking demands. Posted speed limits in the Villages vary from 40 km/h (25 mph) to 65 km/h (40 mph). According to records maintained by the State of Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), the sufficiency rating of about 12.6 km (7.8 miles) of this corridor is below 60 out of a best possible score of 100. The sufficiency ratings were last done statewide in 1996. The rating evaluates sections of Vermonts highways based on structural condition, safety, and quality of service. A sufficiency rating below 60 is indicative of a poor or a bad See VTRANS, page 5 Vtrans From page 1 section of highway. This type of condition on a section of the NHS is unacceptable. The prevailing traffic demand, in conjunction with Route 7s substandard alignment and cross section, creates deficiencies in vehicular and pedestrian safety, and mobility throughout the project. Village of Pittsford and South The following list includes a selected look at Route 7 construction this summer. This section of highway includes the area between km 2.25 (MM 1.40) in Pittsford (at beginning of southbound truck lane) and the Plains Road intersection with US Route 7 (km 6.90 [MM 4.29]) just north of the Village. Construction improvement details: Jewett Hill: Sight distances to the south for vehicles exiting the Jewett Meats driveway were measured and were found to be deficient for the posted 80 km/h (50 mph) speed limit due to a vertical crest curve just south of the driveway. Existing Southbound Truck Lane: The southbound two-lane-to-one merge on Route 7 at the end of the truck lane (km 4.02 [MM 2.50]) is abrupt, thus creating the potential for weaving type accidents. Route 3 Intersection: The configuration of the Route 7/VT Route 3/Oxbow Road intersection is a concern. Sight distances to the north of the intersection for motorists exiting Oxbow Road are restricted due to the alignment of Route 7 and the existing bridge railing along Route 7. Southern Arch Street Intersection: Sight distances to the north of the intersection for motorists exiting the southern Arch Street intersection (km 4.62 [MM 2.87]) are partially restricted by a concrete planter and further complicated by the skewed angle of the intersection. Turning maneuvers to and from Arch Street are difficult due to the angle of the intersection. Roadway Width: In the village of Pittsford, the pavement width of Route 7 is narrow (less than 6.4 m [21 feet]) in places. This narrow width restricts traffic flow and does not allow for emergency stops without blocking through traffic. Also, the inadequate roadway width makes it difficult for trucks traveling through the village. Village Store/Banked Roadway: Due to the lack of curb reveal and the inadequate roadway width, southbound traffic encroaches on the sidewalk to bypass traffic in the vicinity of the Village Store. The roadway appears to be excessively banked at the curve just south of and in front of the Village Store. Vehicles entering driveways to the store or adjacent houses nearly bottom out when passing over the rise in pavement at the outside of the curve. Furnace Road Intersection: There is an island with a utility pole located at the end of Furnace Road. There have been accidents at this location which may have been caused by motorist confusion. Pleasant Street Intersection: Sight distance to the south of the intersections for vehicles exiting Pleasant Street is restricted due to a crest vertical curve. The fire department often uses Pleasant Street as an alternate access to Route 7 in order to avoid the deficient Arch Street/Route 7 intersections. Mechanic Street Intersection: Sight distance to the north, for vehicles exiting Mechanic Street, is restricted by the horizontal and vertical alignment of Route 7. Arch Street/Elm Street Intersections: The existing horizontal curvature of Route 7 includes a very sharp curve in the vicinity of the Arch Street and Elm Street intersections. In addition to the abrupt horizontal curvature, the highways vertical alignment drops steeply to the south. Depot Hill Road Intersection: Sight distance to the south of the intersection for vehicles exiting Depot Hill Road is restricted due to parked vehicles at Keiths Country Store. Plains Road Intersection: Plains Road intersects Route 7 at a skewed angle and ends on a relatively steep downhill grade. There have been numerous accidents at or near this intersection. Years of pavement overlays have left excessive depths of pavement in places and have buried utility covers, prohibiting access and obscuring the location of their aging infrastructure. Lack of sidewalk-roadway separation has resulted in the town eliminating some of the routes students use to walk to local elementary schools. This has increased the demand for school buses, in addition to increasing the actual number and frequency of school bus stops on Route 7. The lack of defined sidewalks is especially a problem in the vicinity of the grammar school. Lack of off-street parking for businesses south of Furnace Road results in vehicles utilizing the sidewalk for on-street parking. Both northbound and southbound vehicles park on the east side of Route 7, partially blocking the sidewalk. Also, trucks have a difficult time maneuvering between vehicles parked partially within the roadway. The volume of traffic, particularly the number of large trucks and recreation vehicles, is cited by the Town as restricting traffic flow along Route 7. This is due to the limited passing opportunities provided along Route 7 and lack of turning lanes or bypass shoulders available at intersections. Trucks account for about 5.6 percent of the total daily traffic volume in the Village of Pittsford based on 1996 Automatic Traffic Recorder (ATR) counts. The truck volume impedes free flow movement of traffic, which results in platoons or groups of vehicles traveling along the highway. The current heavy truck traffic volume through the village is perceived by some as having a detrimental impact on the structural integrity of the buildings (some historic) adjacent to Route 7. Next week: Summer 2008 Route 7 construction details for Brandon.

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