BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) The second leg of the long-awaited Bennington bypass highway is now open for traffic in the southwestern Vermont community.
Gov. Peter Shumlin and top officials from the Federal Highway Administration were on hand Aug. 30 to open the roadway that has been under construction since 2007.
The $72 million project is intended to allow freight to move through the area more easily and keep big trucks out of the downtown.
“The improvements to Route 279 eliminate a major traffic chokepoint and protect the quality of life of this historic community,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau. “This project not only put people to work but created a long-term investment in Vermont and the lives of its residents.”
The 3-mi. (4.8 km) long route that opened Aug. 31 starts a mile east of downtown Bennington and connects with the western leg of the bypass, known formally as Vermont Route 279, which opened to traffic in 2004.
The bypass was first conceived in the 1950s, but construction on the first phase did not begin until 1999.