Charlotte Rt. 7 work beginning this week

CHARLOTTE — As work now is starting in earnest this week to pave Route 7 between Middlebury and New Haven Junction, another Route 7 project is also beginning that will have an impact on those who head north to Chittenden County from Addison County. 
This week, contractors were starting to lay the groundwork for a rebuild of a roughly three-mile stretch of Route 7 that runs from the Ferrisburgh-Charlotte town line northward. Some traffic delays are expected, although as part of the project two-lane detours are planned. 
Although the project now starting in Middlebury is targeted to end at the Ferrisburgh-Charlotte line, VTrans officials and spokespersons said this two-year, $14.5 million task in Charlotte is completely separate. It has a different contractor doing the work and different VTrans engineers designed and are now overseeing it. 
According to information on the agency website and from VTrans spokespersons, the central goals of the project are a rebuild of the roadbed and a widening of its shoulders. 
Those shoulders now vary from just one to eight feed wide between Ferrisburgh and just south of the Ferry Road intersection, which is familiar to Addison County drivers as the site of the first signal north of Vergennes and as the southern marker of a long slope upward with a passing lane.
Another major feature of the project will be a precast 10-foot-by-10-foot concrete tunnel to be installed under the state highway near Lower Old Town Trail Road. It will connect existing bicycle and pedestrian paths on either side of the road. That site is midway between East Thompson’s Point Road to the south and the Charlotte Berry Farm to the north, about six-tenths of a mile north of the turnoff to Mount Philo State Park. 
Also part of the project are culvert replacements, improved drainage and signs, the move of utility poles and overhead lines, and the purchase of easements.  
Plans call for the first mile of the project to be completed this summer, and the rest in 2017, although the listed project completion date is 2018. 
According to the work plans at the VTrans website, before roadbed reconstruction work begins crews will build two-way traffic detours along the highway, this summer along the first mile. Traffic will be moved to those detours while reconstruction of Route 7 is done, one lane at a time. 
VTrans officials said they plan to maintain two-way traffic as much as possible, but delays will occur to move construction equipment, and flaggers will direct one-way traffic. There will be delays during daytime work hours, they said. 
Work this week was set to include clearing land, removal of old and installation of new sub-base, and installing erosion control measures for the detour between East Thompson’s Point Road and Yandow Sales and Service on the west side of Route 7, and rebuilding the first 200 feet of State Park Road on the opposite side, according to VTrans. Some one-way traffic was expected. 
The project will shut down for the winter season by mid-November and begin again next spring, according to VTrans officials. 
According to a May 2014 study prepared for the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, which was researching the feasibility of a Ferry Road pedestrian crossing, showed an average 11,200 vehicles used Route 7 in the area. About a quarter of those were trucks.
Meanwhile, according to VTrans spokesperson Stephanie Barrett, the more southern of the two local Route 7 projects was set to have an active week.
That two-year repaving project begins at High Street in Middlebury and will end at Lime Kiln Road just north of New Haven Junction this summer, and wrap up with resurfacing Route 7 between Lime Kiln Road and the Ferrisburgh-Charlotte line next summer. 
After grinding and crack-sealing the existing pavement and repairing potholes, the highway will be resurfaced with 0.75 inch of asphalt and repainted. Work will also be done to at-grade rail crossings in New Haven and Ferrisburgh.  
Barrett said motorists will see flaggers: “During the construction period, motorists should expect traffic flow to be maintained at all times with one-way alternating traffic during construction hours with control present.”
A third Route 7 project is also under way. Workers are doing prep work for the installation of new signal lights at the intersection of the highway and Little Chicago Road in Ferrisburgh. The lights themselves are set to be installed later this fall, with a target completion date of late October.

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