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State seeks public feedback on railroad plans

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Transportation Board will host seven public forums — including on in Vergennes — for the purpose of gathering public comment about state transportation policy associated with trains, both passenger and freight.
The only Addison County stop will be in Vergennes on Monday, Oct. 17, at Bixby Library, 258 Main St., 6:30 p.m.
Working with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) and the state’s 11 Regional Planning Commissions, the board identified rail as a topic of growing importance to many Vermonters. The board wants to discuss railroad issues with the public to determine how future transportation policy can be shaped to best position Vermont’s rail interests to meet the needs of the state residents.
“Vermont is poised to significantly expand passenger rail in the very near future, while at the same time the state also is seeking growth opportunities for both the movement and off-loading of freight,” said David Coen, acting chair of the Transportation Board. “As a result, we want to have a conversation with Vermonters to both hear their suggestions as well as understand their concerns regarding these new services and how the state uses its rail lines.”
While this year’s focus on trains will naturally attract citizens who live along or near railroad tracks, the board encourages anyone interested in the future of rail to attend.
Topics the board plans to discuss include:
•  Living with railroads as neighbors, and the issues they present.
•  Passenger rail expansion along Vermont’s western corridor between Rutland and Burlington.
•  Passenger rail expansion from various points in Vermont to Montreal.
•  Truck traffic through villages and town centers, and the effect of rail expansion.
•  Adjacent rail-side economic development and planning for increased rail activity.
•  Starting commuter rail service linking Brattleboro to various points in Massachusetts.
•  Rail safety, including crossings, trespassing and response to potential emergency incidents.
At each forum, the board will present background information regarding each topic to set the stage for discussion and comment. Following the forums, the board will submit a written report to both VTrans and the Vermont Legislature. The board also will post the report on its website.
The board will hold public forums on the following dates:
Oct. 17: Bixby Library, 6:30 p.m., 258 Main St., Vergennes.
Oct. 20: The Gateway Center, 6 p.m., 84 Fyfe Drive, Newport.
Oct. 27: The Holiday Inn Rutland, 6 p.m., 476 Holiday Drive, Rutland.
Nov. 9: Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, 6 p.m., 10 Vernon St., Brattleboro.
Nov. 10: St. Albans Museum, 6:30 p.m., 9 Church St., St. Albans City.
Nov. 14: Main Street Landing’s Lake & College Building, 6:30 p.m. Gallery Room, second floor, 60 Lake St., Burlington.
Nov. 16: Hotel Coolidge, 6 p.m., 39 South Main St., White River Junction, VT.
People who cannot attend a hearing can submit written comment by visiting the Board’s website at tboard.vermont.gov.

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