NORTH BENNINGTON -- Art Whitman, owner of Whitman's Feed Store, attempted to show the North Bennington Board of Trustees some of the issues he'd witnessed at the new intersection in the village center at their monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Demonstrating on a piece of paper some of the traffic logjams he'd seen created by large trucks, Whitman argued that trucks were unable to navigate the intersection without either entering the oncoming traffic lane or going up on the seven-inch curb separating the mountable curb and the sidewalk. Whitman's is located on Route 67E in North Bennington, and relies on truckers who use that intersection to make deliveries to the store.
Board member Mark Boudreau suggested that the town should bring these complaints before the state. He suggested asking state engineers, "If you approved this, can you explain to us why this isn't working well?"
Chairman Matthew Patterson expressed regret that truck drivers were experiencing difficulties, but highlighted the difficulties the village would have in having to redo a project that had already cost the village more than $700,000. "Until there is evidence that the engineering is wrong, which we are looking into, we cannot change this," he said. Boudreau suggested that if there was an error in the engineering, the village might be able to have the work redone for free.
While Patterson acknowledged that the village was looking into the bevel on the mountable curb, to alleviate drivers concerns about tires, he said that, "I think, in many ways, this has done exactly what we wanted it to do," referring to slowing traffic down through the center of the village. Board member David Monks agreed to some extent, saying that living in a village comes with certain inconveniences, like having to patiently wait for trucks to navigate the intersection.
"I do not deny that there will always be some trucks who have a problem," said Patterson.
Patterson also read a letter from Noel Cardiff, a citizen concerned about cars illegally parking on Houghton Street, claiming that signs labeling the area had "evaporated during construction." Houghton Street was narrowed during the construction on the intersection, but the state determined that it was still wide enough for two lanes. However, illegal parking on the sides of the recently narrowed road make it impossible for two cars to pass at once. Cardiff said the problem was worst when a nearby during congregation at a nearby church.
Highway Supervisor Norm LeBlanc was on hand for the meeting, and acknowledged that the highway department had taken down the no parking sign, pointing out that the sign was routinely ignored even when it was there. Additionally, according to LeBlanc, the sign was knocked down about six times a year, and was very costly to replace the pole. However, he said that the village still had the sign, and could put it back if the board desired.
Patterson suggested that Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette might be able to help enforce the parking ban on the street. Board member Janice Lerrigo suggested contacting the church, which could tell churchgoers not to park there, and that enforcement will begin in a few weeks. The board decided to look into increased police presence and towing, should people continue to park there.
"It never was, and never shall be legal," said Patterson.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB