Roundabout considered for Route 7 in Ferrisburgh

FERRISBURGH — The Agency of Transportation could install traffic lights at the North Ferrisburgh intersection of Route 7 with Stage and Old Hollow roads within three years, according to a VTrans memo. But a roundabout at that location could be another option, according to the Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC).
Ferrisburgh and regional planning officials last week said they were encouraged by a VTrans pledge to study the intersection and plan for upgrades to an intersection town residents and officials alike have said is dangerous.
Resident Judy Chaves said at the Sept. 4 Ferrisburgh selectboard meeting she gathered about 500 signatures on two petitions seeking traffic lights at the crossroads, and an accident there in June injured residents Charles and Diane Gottlieb, Diane Gottlieb badly.
“The good news is we are on a path to improve safety at that intersection,” said ACRPC Executive Director Adam Lougee in an email. “The study I hope will give us the best path forward.”
VTrans Planning Coordinator Sommer Roefaro Bucossi wrote in a Sept. 12 memo discussed at last week’s Ferrisburgh selectboard meeting that the agency met internally after an Aug. 29 teleconference with Ferrisburgh and ACRPC officials.
In it, Bucossi wrote, “During the internal meeting, VTrans decided to take on the role of conducting an alternative analyses/scoping study for this intersection. Given our current project selection criteria this will allow the project to be programmed most efficiently. The agency will engage ACRPC and the community in this analysis. I understand there are many concerned citizens eager to see improvements to this intersection, namely a traffic signal. However, the Traffic and Safety Budget is such that the project is likely to not be constructed for at least three years.”
In an email to the Independent, Lougee said lights will not necessarily be the study outcome. Even though the Ferrisburgh petitions specifically request signals, regional planners prefer a roundabout because it would keep traffic moving and conform to existing long-range plans.
“The Addison County Regional Plan and the Western Corridor Study both call for use of roundabouts on non-signalized portions of Route 7,” Lougee wrote. “As Middlebury, Barre/Montpelier and a number of other high-volume locations around Vermont have demonstrated, roundabouts can safely control large volumes of traffic with the additional benefit of not requiring vehicles to stop. Because the vehicles generally slow, but are not required to stop for a fixed period of time, roundabouts help to maintain the speed and volume of traffic.”
At the Sept. 18 selectboard meeting Ferrisburgh’s representative to the ACRPC Transportation Advisory Committee, Steve Huffaker, said he was encouraged  by VTrans willingness to take over the process. Huffaker said VTrans’ direct action would be quicker than waiting for completion of an advisory committee process that would mean selecting from competing projects within the county and could “slow down” intersection upgrades.
Still, officials acknowledged the timetable is not fast. In an email responding to Bucossi’s memo, Lougee said it included mixed news.
“The good news is that VTrans will begin studying the intersection and look to construct a solution,” Lougee wrote. “The bad news is that the study and engineering will take some time and the design improvements to make the intersection safer will probably not be constructed for three years.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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