Bristol hears road safety proposals

BRISTOL — The intersection in front of Holley Hall in downtown Bristol will likely get a bit of a makeover to fix what the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) says are safety issues.

The Bristol selectboard heard two alternative designs for the intersection presented by VTrans and Stantec Consulting at the board’s Monday, Dec. 3, meeting.

VTrans identified substantial safety risks at the confluence of Main, North, West and South streets as part of its regular monitoring of traffic safety, and hired Stantec. Company representatives told the selectboard that the disproportionate width of Main Street, which is over 70 feet in places, combined with dangerously low visibility as vehicles approach from North and South streets, makes for a high-risk intersection.

The two potential project designs were drawn up from detailed analytics that Stantec ran on the intersection, including the volume of turns from each direction and the volume of traffic throughout the day.

Though the estimated cost would be more than half of a million dollars, the Vermont Agency of Transportation said that the project — which could include extending sidewalks, altering the angles of pedestrian crosswalks, designating turn lanes, and putting masts (poles extending over the street on which traffic lights hang) on the corners — would be 100 percent covered by federal funds because of the safety risk. Bristol’s main intersection definitely qualifies, officials said.

The board will consider the proposals at its Dec. 17 meeting.

In other activity at last Monday’s meeting, the Bristol selectboard:

•  Heard from the Bristol Conservation Commission about reclaiming the four-acre gravel pit it owns, adjacent to Mount Abraham Union High School. The commission recommended that the town of Bristol take a leading role in the effort to reclaim the pit, as well as three other pits in the area owned by the towns of New Haven and Ferrisburgh and the Kilbourn family. Selectboard members agreed that it was a good time to begin that discussion.

•  Heard from Selectwoman Carol Wells that she would not run for re-election when her term expires on Town Meeting Day.

•  Appointed Dave Henderson as town health officer. Henderson’s term had temporarily expired the previous Friday, which had by default made selectboard chair John “Peeker” Heffernan the temporary town health officer over the weekend.

•  Discussed the budget planning schedule for the month of January.

•  Scheduled a disciplinary hearing for Bristol Police Chief Kevin Gibbs for Dec. 17 (see story in the Dec. 3 edition of the Independent).

•  Voted to approve “Bristol Bucks,” a town currency meant to encourage local spending.

•  Voted in favor of allowing the police department to get a $1,000 grant from Walmart for a desktop computer and digital copying system to increase the filing and documentation capacity of the police station. 

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