What a week in highway transport in New Hampshire and Vermont. After
three decades, the $40-$120 million Rutland, Vermont bypass is officially
dead. Vermont state officials informed the Rutland transportation committee
early this week and today the Rutland Herald has a banner headline with all
the community reactions to the passing of this 1960s insanity.
Rutland will now work on streetscaping, roundabouts, and renewing its
downtown arterials and old commercial strip on Main Street. A wonderful
victory for a local communities over a single minded state that now will
allow resources and vitality to rise from truly community based planning.
In Kerene, the $66 million Bypass Expansion, hit a rock in the form of
wetlands permitting and now must re-visit fraudulent traffic projections and
outlandish commercial/retail/residential growth assumptiions in those traffic
Over the past two years the Concerned Cheshire Citizens (CCC) have worked to
bring out the true facts of flat traffic and employing the roundabout
alternative at key intersections (the new Brattleboro, VT, two-entry
roundabout would handle any of the intersections traffic along the Bypass
The CCC met with the City Council this week and the Mayor is asking
questions about the numbers--the State planners and city planner play
ping-pong here with the State saying they used the Keene Traffic Model and
the local planners saying the State took information the City provided and
ran the model themselves!).
Rutland and Keene share two common elements. First--and you cannot blame
state officials for this--traffic declined along the major bypass routes
during the 1990s and will likely continue to be stable or change slightly for
the foreseeable future.
Second, there was a small number of concerned citizens and business people
who saw the folly of these projects and began to organize at the town and
regional level and learned about how decisions are made and the variety of
players--from regional planning commissions to the US Army Corps of Engineers
to state natural resource agencies. Third, these groups stuck to the facts
and to the idea that there must be a different and beneficial choice for
their communities--and the roundabout turned out to be a key component of an
alternative beginning vision.
Now Rutland can begin at the community level to plan a better
transportation future! And now, Keene moves closer to the day when it can
join Rutland in this exciting endeavor!
In Vermont we still have a Circ highway around Burlington to be buried, a
$40 million Shelburne Road (So. Burlington/shelburne) road project to be
re-designed with roundabouts, and many downtown and village streetscapes to
be undertaken. Let the fun begin!
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