Ferrisburgh eyes Vergennes bypass

FERRISBURGH — Two Ferrisburgh selectboard members and the town’s representative on a key county transportation committee at Tuesday’s selectboard meeting criticized the proposed truck bypass of Vergennes that would route northbound traffic along Route 17 from Addison to Route 7 and then northward from there, including through Ferrisburgh.
The problem, said board members Jeff Warden and Jim Benoit and Addison Regional Planning Commission Transportation Advisory Committee member Bob McNary, would be adding up to 32 trucks an hour to two dangerous Route 7 intersections in Ferrisburgh.
They also noted the fact that trucks carrying hazardous materials would have to stop at the railroad tracks outside Vergennes.
“It’s a nightmare,” said Warden, also the Shelburne police chief.
McNary was set to attend a Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting on Wednesday night at which the preliminary bypass plan, which is backed by the Vergennes City Council, would be discussed.
McNary said he would vote based on guidance from the selectboard, but said, “My personal opinion is it’s a bad idea.”
McNary cited the intersection of Route 7 with New Haven Road at the bottom of Woodman Hill and the highway’s junction just north with Monkton Road. Both, he said, have had “multiple fatalities” over the years.
Trucks stopping for the railroad tracks just north of Monkton Road would back up traffic, he said, causing further problems. McNary added that Route 17 between Routes 22A and 17 is hilly and curvy, and that truckers’ groups would not support the proposal, which he didn’t believe would gain traction.
“I understand Vergennes is frustrated,” he said. “Personally, I don’t think this has wings at all.”
The selectboard did not take a position on Tuesday, however. Chairman Steve Gutowski said it was “kind of early” in the process and that being sympathetic to the city’s situation he did not want Ferrisburgh “to come off as bad neighbors.”
Selectwoman Loretta Lawrence agreed with Gutowski.
“We don’t know what the whole picture is yet,” she said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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