Ferrisburgh seeking Route 7 traffic light

FERRISBURGH — Residents’ complaints about a dangerous intersection and speeding honey wagons on Tuesday prompted the Ferrisburgh selectboard to act in one case and promise to take action in the other.
The action on the dangerous intersection could potentially have a wider effect. Residents who live on Hollow, Stage and Long Point roads pressed the board to lobby the Agency of Transportation and the Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) for a traffic light on Route 7.
The intersection in question is the northernmost on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh, with Hollow Road to the east and Stage Road to the west. A Mobil gas station sits at its northwest corner.
Residents described not only many near misses, but also one unfortunate accident. Charlie Gottlieb said his car was not long ago “T-boned” at the intersection, with his wife suffering a broken back and other fractures.
There is a common reaction to news of the accident, Gottlieb said.
“When people hear this story, they nearly always say, ‘It could have been me,’” he said.
Resident Judy Chaves said she has worked “for years and years” to get a light at that intersection, including getting a petition signed by 453 residents in 2017.
“I’ve been just frustrated and frustrated,” she said, adding she had been advised by ACRPC executive director Adam Lougee, ‘You’ve got to keep on bugging VTrans.’”
Chaves added, “It would be good if the selectboard is behind this.”
Board Chairman Rick Ebel said the board was already prepared to ask formally that the ACRPC study the intersection, with hopes of a recommendation for a light. The board did so a year ago, but ACRPC focused as a transportation priority instead on replacing the burned out covered bridge linking Salisbury and Cornwall.
“We’re basically going to resubmit the request that we put in last year,” Ebel said of an action the board then took at the meeting.
Ebel also asked residents for any supporting data, and Chaves and Gottlieb said they would provide the petition, the official endorsement of the Long Point Association, and resident letters.
Selectman Steve Gutowski said VTrans has studied the intersection within the past eight years, and that study resulted in the installation of turning lanes. But he attended meetings with VTrans engineers in which they drew the line short of traffic lights, saying accident data did not warrant them.
“We’ve lobbied VTrans before,” he said. “Their engineering data does not support that because of the accident reports.”
But he added, “Personal contact from the public can make that change.”
Chaves said she and other proponents of signalizing the intersection plan to ramp up their lobbying of officials at ACRPC and VTrans.
“We want to take it to another level,” she said.
The complaints of speeding manure trucks came from Gerry Blair, a resident of Pea Ridge Road in Ferrisburgh’s southeast corner. Pea Ridge Road, a dirt road about 1.5 miles long, runs north-south and connects Monkton and Plank roads.
Blair said the large trucks drive the road several times a day in excess of the 35 mph limit, posing a danger to residents, especially children and animals, and kicking up dust.
“I’m all in favor of farms,” Blair said, but added the trucks “don’t need to use this road,” which he described as a narrow and convenient, but dangerous, shortcut.
Blair also complained about persistent illegal ATV use. “I’ve politely asked them not to do this,” he said, with the response that his vehicles have been egged and BBs have been shot at his windows despite visits from Vermont State Police, to which he also complained. He and other neighbors described these actions as not unusual on the town’s side roads.
“Perhaps we need to get a handle on this lawless behavior,” Blair said. “I’d like to see something done.”
Ebel said he had contacted the Addison County Sheriff’s Department, with which the town contracts for traffic control, after an earlier letter from Blair. Blair said he had noticed no patrols since sending the letter.
Ebel said the board would again contact the sheriff’s department and check with VSP.
“We’re going to follow up,” he said, adding, “We’ll do what we can.”
Among other business at its Tuesday meeting, the Ferrisburgh selectboard:
• Agreed to sign the town’s annual fire protection contract with Vergennes, which increased by more than $9,000 to $69,018 due to the city’s purchase of a new truck. The board, however, agreed to set up a meeting with Ferrisburgh and Vergennes fire chiefs to discus whether Ferrisburgh should act as first responder to more of the town, thus reducing its future payments to Vergennes. Board members noted parts of Ferrisburgh the city covers are actually closer to the Ferrisburgh station.
• Signed a contract to continue to allow Ferrisburgh residents to use the Vergennes recycling center through the end of the year. Costs increased at the center due to devaluing of recycled materials on the market, and the future of the center is in question, per Ferrisburgh’s Addison County Solid Waste Management District representative, Steve Huffaker. ACSWMD is partially subsidizing the center through the end of 2018, Huffaker said.
• Accepted a donation of a painting (see below) of the Grange Hall/town office building in memory of Bob Jenkins, a former selectboard member and longtime town resident. Jenkins’ daughter, Robin Curler, presented the painting, which was donated by Mary Jane Jenkins, his widow.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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