NORTH BENNINGTON - Truckers aren't happy with the newly refurbished intersection of Bank and Main Streets.
The owners of several area trucking companies attended the North Bennington Board of Trustees' monthly meeting on Tuesday, complaining that the new intersection didn't offer enough room for trucks to maneuver, and was causing serious damage to their trucks' tires. The construction, which was completed around the end of October, was designed to make the village center more pedestrian friendly. It includes mountable curbs for trucks to use, but the owners insisted it wasn't enough. "There is no way we can use that intersection without doing something illegal," said one of the protesters during the citizens' comments portion of the meeting.
"At every stage, these plans were approved by the state, with trucks in mind. They were approved by at least six different state agencies," said Matthew Patterson, chairman of the Board of Tr u s t e e s .
The intersection lies right at the center of the North Bennington Historic district, but is also the intersection of Routes 67 and 67A.
Route 67 is a major truck route, according to Norm Leblanc, the village's highway superintendent.
The intersection was designed to slow down traffic in the village center, where cars and trucks alike often ignored the posted speed limits.
"Let me ask you, is this, of all the routes you drive, the worst intersection you experience?" asked Patterson at one point, as the protesting owners all stood around the board table. They answered with a unanimous yes.
The company owners presented photo evidence of trucks being unable to successfully navigate the intersection, especially during high-traffic hours. Many of the members of the board noted that the truck drivers were not fully utilizing the mountable curbs. The representatives of the trucking companies expressed concern over the angle of the mountable curb, and the height of the seven-inch curb separating the mountable curb from the grass area between the curb and the sidewalk. Patterson said that curb was so high for the express purpose of discouraging people from driving on it.
Leblanc urged the trucking company owners to submit evidence of the difficulties they face, and the damage its doing to their trucks. "You have to help us help you," said Leblanc. He expressed a willingness to go shave down the angle on the mountable curb himself - if the trucking company owners would meet him out there one morning to discuss the issue.
In an interview after the public meeting, Leblanc expressed the importance of commerce to the local economy, and said, "We are looking at ways that we can make this work for everyone."
At one point during the meetings, Patterson asked why they hadn't brought up their objections during one of the public planning meetings during the last 10 years.
"I kept telling myself, if the state engineered it, it's going to be okay," said one of the concerned trucking owners.
"I'm still at that point," replied Patterson, shaking his head.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB