Ferrisburgh traffic light installation set for 2016

FERRISBURGH — Plans call for the long-awaited traffic light at the Ferrisburgh intersection of Route 7 and Little Chicago Road to be operational some time next fall, according to an email from Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, read at Tuesday’s Ferrisburgh selectboard meeting.
Town officials had lobbied for such a light for years and were informed in March 2013 that the Agency of Transportation was working on the project. That summer VTrans officials told the selectboard that a 2016 timetable was realistic.
In an October 2012 letter to the selectboard, VTrans Director of Program Development Richard Tetreault, now the agency’s deputy secretary, said although there have been fewer accidents there in recent years, the agency was “still concerned with the fact that 11 crashes have occurred at this location over the past five years, with four resulting in injuries.”
The project will not include a pedestrian-triggered crossing light. VTrans project manager Patti Coburn said such lights can only be installed when supporting pedestrian infrastructure is already in place, such as sidewalks.
Ferrisburgh has discussed sidewalks along Little Chicago Road from the nearby Ferrisburgh Central School and on Middlebrook Road, which runs east from the intersection; therefore a pedestrian crossing light remains a theoretical possibility in the future.
In 2013, state and Ferrisburgh officials had also discussed how often the lights would run red and green and how often they would flash yellow to Route 7 traffic and red on the town roads.
At present, Coburn said in an email, plans call for flashing lights only at night.
“Design plans show the proposed traffic signal operating in flash mode from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.,” she wrote.
Also discussed back in 2013 and 2014 was whether the project could include a left-turn lane to allow northbound highway traffic to turn more easily onto Little Chicago Road. Selectboard member Loretta Lawrence, then the chairwoman, said on Wednesday that VTrans said no to that proposal.
Lanpher’s email said VTrans planned to pursue design bids aggressively in the spring and begin work in the summer, but that the agency did not expect the work to be completed before the beginning of the school year.
Not all are convinced the lights will solve the traffic problems that develop during the heavy traffic hours, especially at the beginning and end of the school day at an intersection that is in the heart of a village area that also includes businesses, the town office building, homes and a post office.
Town Clerk Gloria Warden wondered on Wednesday what the impact of backed-up traffic might be on elections, and Selectboard Chairman Steve Gutowski said at Tuesday’s meeting he didn’t know if the light “will create more problems” or improve the intersection.
“But we’ll find out,” he said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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