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VTrans working to improve New Haven railroad crossings

NEW HAVEN — Upgrades are under way to two railroad crossings in New Haven, one at Campground Road and one at Plank Road.
“The crossings will be a lot safer,” said New Haven Selectman Jim Walsh, who’s the selectboard’s point person on the project.
The Agency of Transportation (VTrans) began work this summer to improve the railroad crossing at Campground Road. The approach to this rail crossing, which is approximately 0.4 mile west of Route 7, was leveled to make access easier. A rubber mat was added between the rails, so that both cars and bikes could cross the tracks more smoothly. Guardrails were added along a steep embankment.
This month, the work will conclude at the Campground Road railroad crossing with the addition of warning lights and automatic crossing gates. Up to now, the crossing has had only a stop sign.
“Eventually the plan will be Amtrak will be coming through they say at 59 miles an hour, much faster than the current trains. So without crossing gates it could be quite hazardous,” said Walsh.
Later this month VTrans will begin work on the Plank Road railroad crossing, which is about a third of a mile south of South Middle Brook Road. It, too, will get upgraded from just a stop sign to automatic crossing gates, and it, too, will get rubber mats between the rails to make crossing easier. Walsh said he expects construction to be completed on the Plank Road railroad crossing sometime in November.
Total cost for the two railroad crossing upgrades is close to $900,000, Walsh said. The project is fully funded by state and federal grants (90 percent federal funding and 10 percent state, he said).
Walsh said he approached the Agency of Transportation about two years ago to get the two New Haven projects on the state’s to-do list. With ongoing talk of new Amtrak service connecting Burlington and Rutland, Walsh said he wanted to be sure that New Haven made its request early.   
   AN UPGRADE THIS summer to the railroad crossing on Campground Road just west of Route 7 in New Haven made it smother for cars and bikers, which can be seen in these before (above) and after photos. Later this month warning lights and automatic crossing gates will be added.
Photos courtesy of Jim Walsh 
“I didn’t want New Haven to be the last town to get their crossing fixed. The last one in line there might not be any money left,” he said.
Walsh also noted that in addition to VTrans’s work on the Campground Road crossing, the town of New Haven recently completed a separate project to repave and repair Campground Road. The bulk of that project was covered by state and federal grants, with the remainder being covered by both New Haven and Pike Industries.
“While these railroad crossing upgrades have taken some time, they will be much better for commuters, cyclists and tourists,” said Walsh. “Our selectboard members and New Haven residents appreciate these needed upgrades. And I think everyone is looking forward to Amtrak passenger service.”
Reporter Gaen Murphree is at [email protected].

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