ST. ALBANS CITY: Fed’l Street plan review at state level

Project cost: $1.2M

Michelle Monroe

By Michelle Monroe

Executive Editor

Just
The Facts

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ST. ALBANS CITY — St. Albans City has applied for an Act 250 permit for a $1.2 million project at the intersection of Lake, Federal and Catherine streets.

The improvements are the first phase of the Federal Street multi-modal connector and will cover 0.4 miles of the 2.1-mile Federal Street project.

“Fixing the intersection is a pivotal piece of the Federal Street project,” said city manager Dominic Cloud.

The work starts at the intersection of Stebbins and Catherine streets, where the corner will be rounded to accommodate truck traffic.

The city also will acquire Market Street from the railroad, repaving and improving the street. It will remain a two-lane street, but access from Lake Street will be limited to those traveling east and turning right onto Market.

To bring Catherine and Federal streets into alignment, the city will remove the diagonal parking on the west side of Federal next to the New England Central Railroad building.

At the intersection, there will be two lanes on Federal Street, one for right turns only and one for left turns and through traffic onto Catherine. Lake Street motorists driving west will have three lanes: right turn onto Federal, left turn onto Catherine, or straight through.

Catherine Street and Lake Street westbound each will have one lane approaching the intersection.

All four approaches to the intersection will have stop signs.

Crosswalks will be added at the intersection to improve pedestrian safety, along with sidewalk in front of the former Giroux Furniture building, located on Lake Street between Market and Catherine streets.

Streetscaping will be added to those sections of Federal Street included in the project.

Funding for the ground level work comes from state and federal grants with an additional $300,000 from the tax increment financing bond voters approved for the construction of the municipal parking garage and improvements at the intersection in 2013.

Water and wastewater infrastructure at the intersection also will get an upgrade while roads and sidewalks are dug up, explained Cloud. Funding for those improvements will come from existing water and wastewater reserve funds.

The underground infrastructure improvements are roughly half of the total cost of the project, according to Cloud.

After investigating the possibility of installing a traffic light at the intersection, traffic engineers from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB) recommended the city install a four-way stop.

The city had extensive conversations with the railroad about how to make a light at the intersection work, but could not come up with a way for preempting the light to insure all Lake Street traffic cleared the railroad tracks when a train was arriving that would not result in numerous false preemptions per day, the city council was told at a meeting last April.

The proposed four-way stop has won the support of the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC), which has submitted its analysis to the District Commission. NRPC’s policy and project review committee conducted that analysis.

NRPC wrote it is pleased with the safety improvements for both pedestrians and motorists, as well as the preservation of existing historic buildings located at the intersection.

The installation of sidewalk in front of the Giroux building, an area described by the NRPC as “a section of road that has long been treacherous for pedestrians,” won particular approval from the NRPC.

The intersection improvements will likely be part of other work scheduled for Lake Street next year, including the construction of a hotel at 43 Lake St., streetscaping of the block from Main to Federal streets, repaving of the street by the Vermont Agency of Transportation and replacing of sidewalks in poor condition.