Town prepares for paving projects
The project will involve re-paving a section of Route 7 from the intersection with Kocher Drive, near the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce and the State Office Building, to the Park Lawn Cemetery, just prior to the Starlight Inn and the former One World Conservation Center. The Route 9 portion of the project will run from Four Chimneys Inn to the intersection of Route 279 and Route 9, near Papa Pete's Restaurant.
A final decision on where the project will begin has not yet been made.
According to documentation distributed to downtown property and business owners over the last week, construction could begin as soon next week, but officials say the timeline is probably a little further away.
"Construction signs will begin to go up over the course of the next two weeks," said Natalie Boyle, director of communications at EIV Technical Services, the contractor that is handling public relations for VTRANS on this project. "Message boards will be put into place indicating upcoming construction. Cold planing is scheduled to begin the first week of August."
VTRANS has assured property owners that access to their property throughout the project, but notes that some parking will be temporarily unavailable depending on where the construction is taking place. Sidewalks will remain open throughout the project.
Boyle and John Shannahan, executive director of the Bennington Downtown Alliance, have been meeting with downtown property owners over the past week.
"On the whole, a large majority of property and business owners have responded positively," said Boyle, "understanding that the work needs to be done and that the finished product will be well worth any short-term inconveniences."
Shannahan agreed with that assessment. "It was a great response from everybody," he said.
He said that business owners had two major concerns with the project: How will their customers get to them and how will deliveries be made? To that end, Shannahan said that they are working with VTRANS and the Town of Bennington on signage, as well as potential parking restrictions and temporary reversing of one-ways to make sure that traffic can flow around the construction.
Shannahan said that no road will ever be completely closed during the project: at least one lane will remain open at all times, and flaggers will be present to assist with traffic crossing the main roads.
"The contractor, Peckham Road Corp., has stated that arrangements have been made with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department to assist with traffic control and will be available as needed," said Boyle. "The contractor's supervisor is aware that access for delivery trucks and customers getting in and out of businesses can be an issue should traffic back up in front of entrances with curb cuts. The contractor will work in conjunction with VTrans staff to try and be as proactive as possible with any potential access concerns."
The BDA's biggest concern, however, is tourists. While locals know how to navigate around downtown and where to park if they can't park on the street, visitors to Bennington will need a little help. He said that one of his priorities, which he is working on with town officials, is to make sure parking areas are clearly designated and visible. The BDA is also producing a brochure map indicating parking areas that will be distributed to all downtown businesses.
Construction activities will include milling of the road surface, adjusting manholes and drainage structures, paving, stop bar detection at traffic signals, and lane striping. The project is expected to be completed by mid-October.
This construction comes among a busy summer for paving on state-operated roadways. Work on Route 9 from Woodford to Wilmington is largely complete, and work on Route 67A through a portion of North Bennington will take place later this summer.
In his last two columns in the Banner, Bennington Town Manager Stu Hurd has implored residents to be patient with the delays caused by the construction. "This is a very busy time," he said. "Please bear with us."
Throughout the course of the project, VTRANS will be posting updates on the "VTrans-Rutland Region Construction Contract Updates" Facebook Page, as well as submitting notices to the Banner and Catamount Access Television. Shannahan said that the BDA is also working on setting up a Facebook page to keep locals abreast of the latest developments with the construction. Residents with questions about the project are encouraged to contact Boyle at 802-855-3893 or by email at email@example.com.
"The Southwest VTrans Facebook page will be updated by myself at least once a week with pictures, video, project progress and any alerts as deemed necessary by VTrans staff," said Boyle. "Anyone is welcome to like the page, forward or share posts."
"What we're really looking forward to is the finished product," said Shannahan. "This is much-needed. It doesn't happen often and it's our turn."
Derek Carson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.
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