Guv Promises Rt. 4 Traffic Study, Rumble Strips, Portable Message Boards

UnknownWoodstock Early Birds: We have some promises from the Vermont Agency of Transportation and from the Governor about how to address the critical problem of an apparent increase in accidents, fatal ones, in the last few months on Route 4.

These accidents have not only brought harm and heartbreak to  individuals and their families, they have also taxed local resources — including volunteers — from area public safety agencies: police, fire and rescue.

While we could not attend the Governor’s announcement in Hartford earlier today, we did receive a press release, the text of which is below.  We also checked in with Woodstock Municipal Manager Phil Swanson who was at the meeting in Hartford:

Swanson said what is promised in the Governor’s press release (below)  can essentially be broken into different timelines — the more expensive the more years out in terms of getting it done, the less expensive the more immediate will we see results.

Short-term, this is what we can expect:

1. “Leveling” of Route 4 starting in July from approximately the flashing light at the Rt. 4 intersection of Rt. 12 and hopefully going the distance to the Interstate. This project is going out to bid right now.

2. As part of the “Leveling” project this summer we can expect to see re-painted center and sidelines.

3. As part of the “Leveling” project this summer, we can expect to see rumble strips down the centerline “in appropriate places.” 

What we can expect on Rt. 4 “mid-term”:

1. In 3-5 years we can expect an edge-to-edge repaving of Route 4.

What can we expect on Rt. 4 “long-term”

1. Within the next 10 years, efforts to work on shoulders and gain long-term “rights-of-way” to widen or re-design Route 4.

2. Results of a Rt. 4 traffic study.

Swanson notes that since he has been Woodstock Municipal Manager there have been 6-7 Rt. 4 traffic studies! (WEB is just sayin’!)

Finally, Swanson said he was appreciative of the Governor taking the time to come down and discuss our local Rt. 4 issues and to lend his support and commitment to making needed safety changes.

At this point, Swanson says the short-term fixes and efforts will be using State of Vermont monies, but down the road Federal dollars will be sought for larger projects.

Woodstock Fire Chief L.D. Sutherland, Jr. who was not able to attend today’s meeting said he was glad that the parties who could make changes came together. He said, “From the beginning, I wanted to get the right people together talking to the right people, to get something done about Rt. 4. They did that today.”

Sutherland, asked if he felt good about having first made a suggestion publically about getting rumble strips – an idea that may come to fruition this summer —  answered, “I will feel good,  be the first one walking down the road on those rumble strips when they get them in!”

Here is the press release issued by Gov. Peter Shumlin’s Office this afternoon:

HARTFORD –Following a recent increase in the number of serious motor vehicle crashes on U.S. Route 4 in the Hartford-Woodstock area, including four fatalities in recent months, Gov. Peter Shumlin today announced that the Agency of Transportation will install portable message boards reminding drivers to be alert and focus on safety, pave deteriorated stretches of the roadway surface, install centerline rumble strips in appropriate areas, conduct an engineering review to determine what further safety treatments may be warranted, and work with local officials on proposed improvements.

 “My heart goes out to the families of those injured or killed on Route 4, or any other Vermont road,” Gov. Shumlin said in an afternoon stop at the Hartford Police Department, with Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, Rep. Alison Clarkson, AOT Deputy Secretary Sue Minter, and others. “We will work with communities in this area to determine what safety measures make sense for Route 4. I also remind people to drive with caution and stay alert to prevent accidents.”

 “The lives of our citizens are at stake,” said Sen. John Campbell. “Our obligation is to act now.”

 Gov. Shumlin and Minter met with local emergency and town officials, including Hartford Police and Fire Chief Steve Locke and Woodstock Town Manager Phil Swanson, to discuss the increase in Route 4 accidents.

The Governor outlined the state’s short-term assistance, including safety signage and paving, and pledged to work with local officials and emergency staff as conversations about longer-term solutions move forward.

Gov. Shumlin said it’s not clear why Route 4 has been the scene of an unusually high number of accidents this spring, but if structural changes are needed, that will be determined and work will be scheduled.

 “I cannot stress enough how important it is for drivers to slow down and pay attention on this road,” Gov. Shumlin said. “And as we head into summer, that need for caution extends across the state.”

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8 responses to this post.

  1. OK. But you know what really bugs me? Knowing there is a bright orange line painting truck sitting in some VT AOT parking lot and it isn’t headed to Route 4 on Monday morning. We have to wait for the completion of the road leveling project scheduled to START in July? Yikes!

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  2. Posted by Paula on June 7, 2013 at 19:19

    FYI Three fatalities in recent years have been WEST of Route 12 South. I think rumble strips should be all the way into Woodstock. That part of road is as winding and narrow as the rest. My thought is keep those strips going all the way to The Beverage Center on East side of Woodstock.

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    • Posted by Don on June 9, 2013 at 09:08

      We have also lost people on the west side of town the strips should go to the junction country store

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  3. Posted by fxflinn on June 7, 2013 at 20:37

    During the premeeting before the public session HPSD Locke stated that HPD would be doing “strict enforcement” on Route 4. Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg said Hartford is getting ‘wonderful cooperation’ from the VSP as well. So expect to see the police out there a lot in coming weeks, starting now.

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  4. Posted by Heather O'Connell on June 8, 2013 at 08:27

    How about lowering the speed limit from 50mph in those spots to 40 or 45mph!

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    • I’m afraid to ask how long it would take to replace the 45mph and 50mph signs with 40mph signs. But I bet it would be WAY LONGER than you could ever imagine,

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  5. Heather: I couldn’t agree more. have been advocating for that for some years. To me it makes sense to have the speed be 40 MPH from the village line to the interstate!

    Ditto to Paula, what you write is only sensible. Is that too much to expect f VTrans?

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