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State to put traffic light in Ferrisburgh village

FERRISBURGH — The Agency of Transportation has pledged within the next several years to put traffic lights at the Ferrisburgh intersection of Route 7 with Little Chicago and Middlebrook roads, which is in the heart of the town’s population center and is near Ferrisburgh Central School.
In an Oct. 18 letter to selectboard chairwoman Loretta Lawrence, VTrans Director of Program Development Richard Tetreault said although there have been fewer accidents there in recent years, the agency is “still concerned with the fact that 11 crashes have occurred at this location over the past five years, with four resulting in injuries.”
VTrans project manager Joshua Schultz confirmed in an Oct. 26 email to the Independent that VTrans plans “a fully signalized intersection, with a traffic light assigned to each leg of the intersection.”
In an Oct. 25 email, Schultz said VTrans believes lights will make the intersection not only safer, but more efficient.
“The Agency feels that a traffic signal is an appropriate solution for this location, and will not only provide safety benefits, but will also make the intersection more efficient from a traffic flow perspective,” he wrote.
Lawrence said the selectboard has been for a decade lobbying VTrans and legislators for lights at the intersection on behalf of residents who, like the board, are concerned about safety there.
“We’ve been working on this for the past 10 years or more. I can’t tell you how many letters we’ve written,” Lawrence said. “We’re ecstatic that it’s coming.”
Schultz wrote that it’s too early to tell whether the installation will incorporate suggestions made in a bill written by Ferrisburgh 5th-graders and introduced by Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, this past spring — it called for red and green lights from 7 to 9 a.m. and then again from 2 to 6:30 p.m., with flashing yellow lights the rest of the day — or by a Safe Routes to School effort organized by town residents, including a pedestrian-triggered light and a crosswalk.
Schultz, who recently met with the now 6th-grade class and Lanpher, said VTrans would study those and other issues during the design phase, which will include input from town officials and residents.
“Design will likely begin on this project in late fall/early winter, where the design team will develop some potential alternatives,” he wrote. “These will be presented to the Ferrisburgh selectboard and other important and interested stakeholders, and we’ll work together to arrive at an acceptable solution.”
Schultz said the project would take time, probably three to five years, to complete. He said as issues to be resolved included relocating utility lines, designing and making drainage improvements, obtaining environmental permits, possibly obtaining rights of way, and working around the area’s historic properties.
“Our hope is that the project will advance quickly,” he said. “But at the same time we want to make sure folks understand the challenges we’ll all be facing, and don’t have unrealistic expectations as to when construction will occur.”
Lawrence said now that lights for the intersection are finally on the radar she just hopes the funding will be in place when the time comes.
“Three to five years is not a long time when you think about how long we’ve been working on this project,” she said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]

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