PEDESTRIAN SAFETY: Crosswalk possible by spring

Rt. 104 project goes forward

Elodie Reed

By Elodie Reed

Staff Writer

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The Facts

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ST. ALBANS TOWN — Following many months of waiting, officials here are now seeing movement from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) on a crosswalk project on Route 104 at the Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center Complex.

The area, often traversed by students who shop for snacks before and after school sports practices and matches, is a state highway with a speed limit of 40 mph with no safe crossing point.

Out of concern for pedestrian safety, the selectboard and town manager Carrie Johnson originally asked the state to install a crosswalk late last spring.

That letter, however, didn’t receive a response until October. In the responding letter, VTrans officials said a crosswalk was not allowed across Route 104 due to the high speed limit and lack of pedestrian accessibility on either side of the road.

Since then, the selectboard has looked into reducing the speed limit and putting a sidewalk along the eastern edge of the complex, which would make the crossing compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Town officials have waited for about two months for a confirmation of the speed reduction and an engineering study, and have contacted local legislators for help.

This week, things began to progress. According to VTrans traffic operations engineer Amy Gambol, a field technician was sent on Tuesday to inspect the area between the complex and the Jolley Store across the road.

“I’d expect he’d have his work done in the next couple of weeks,” Gambol said Wednesday of the technician. As for the reason for the long delay in the project, Gambol said she had been assigned to a different, special unit within the agency for several months.

“I think a lot of things fell through the cracks,” she said.

Now, though, the St. Albans Town crosswalk request is being processed and pushed forward. Gambol said the field technician is looking into the biggest issue with the proposal, mainly that a number of highway signs would have to be moved for the crosswalk.

“There’s a lot of signs right there,” said Gambol. “That’s the challenge we’re grappling with at the moment.”

After the engineering study is completed, VTrans will make a recommendation as to whether a crosswalk is suitable for the area. With a positive recommendation, a crosswalk would be installed on the state highway in the coming months, weather permitting.

“At this point, we probably wouldn’t install a crosswalk before spring,” said Gambol.

St. Albans Selectboard Chair Bernie Boudreau learned of the progress being made on the project when the Messenger called him for comment. Though slightly surprised, Boudreau said he was happy about that news and ready to help.

“We’ll do whatever we need to do,” he said.