The current construction will be completed next year, but our intention is to run through the six segments one after another. We're not yet sure just how long that will take, but it certainly will take but we are likely talking the better part of a decade if not longer.
The Eagle: How is this cost broken down federal vs. state funding?
Zicconi: The current contract is being done with federal stimulus money, so it is 100 percent federal funds. The other five phases will be the usual 80 percent federal, 20 percent state.
The Eagle: Was this a "stimulus" project or budgeted before the stimulus?
Zicconi: Only the current contract is stimulus. The other five phases will be our usual funding of 80/20 as mentioned above.
The Eagle: What was the main reason for the work just south of Brandon? Was it all safety related?
Zicconi: Safety is one factor. The other is mobility. This 12- mile stretch of Route 7 does not meet modern standards for a major roadway (12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot shoulders) so this project will bring this segment of Route 7 up to modern specifications, which will improve both safety and mobility.
The Eagle: With all the Route 7 work being done, why aren't we seeing more extended passing lanes being created? It seems Route 7 will be just as congested. Is this a false perception?
Zicconi: The project does include three passing lanes, but they are all located further south of the current construction and will be part of future construction contracts.
The Eagle: What is the long range viability of Route 7? Do you see more bypasses-say around Middlebury-in the future? Assuming Vermonters will still want to travel by car, and to support tourism as well as commerce, how can improved vehicular access between Rutland and Burlington be supported by Route 7 without extended multiple lanes for passing and bypasses around bottleneck towns such as Middlebury?