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Stimulus funds at work along Route 7

Motorists are likely to remember the late, great summer of 2010 as much by its soaring temperatures over 90 degrees as by its tortoise-like highway traffic patterns. In the case of stop-and-go traffic, blame it on several high-profile highway and bridge construction projects around the region.

While the Lake Champlain Bridge project may have received the most coverage by news media, there are other transportation-related construction jobs-such as the U.S. Route 7 Pittsford-Brandon corridor and the Route 125/Green Mountain National Forest projects-that likely affected a larger volume of local drivers.

For commuters along U.S. Route 7 in northern Rutland County, the summer just ended was a silly season of traffic delays and clouds of dust along the northern Rutland County corridor.

The project, still underway, was designed to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety as well as to enhance mobility along Route 7 through Pittsford and Brandon.

According to VTrans, the work area encompasses rural and town settings from Pittsford to approximately 0.1 mile south of the Brandon town line. The total project length is nearly 12 miles.

While millions are being spent on Route 7 alone this year, the highway never seems to get the kinds of upgrades most daily drivers would like to see-that is, extended passing lanes, increased highway speeds, and bypasses around congested downtown areas.

We asked John Zicconi, director of planning, outreach, and community affairs for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, several questions about the financing and progress of the Brandon project as well as the future viability of Route 7.

Eagle: What is the estimated total cost of the Brandon/Route 7 phase of the project? When will it be completed?

Zicconi: The contract currently underway has a construction total of $11.3 million, but this is only one phase of six phase project that will improve Route 7 from Brandon village through Pittsford village and a small portion just south of Pittsford village. Total cost of all six phases is estimated at $60 million.

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