Driving around Franklin County, Vt., there is a good chance motorists will see a few construction crews out on the roads this summer.
For the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), it is all part of the 2022 construction season, and this year, the statehouse in Montpelier is budgeting historic amounts for what is coming up next over the next four years.
Gov. Phil Scott signed the state's newest transportation bill on June 9, which funds upcoming infrastructure improvements to the tune of $868 million, due in large measure to last fall's substantial federal investment.
Compared to Vermont's 2021's transportation budget, that is a $200 million increase, the St. Albans Messenger reported June 17.
"The signing of this historic transportation bill into law will enable VTrans and the [Department of Motor Vehicles] to complete many critical projects sooner than anticipated, with [the result being] better services and more transportation options for Vermonters," VTrans Secretary Joe Flynn said in a statement.
While some funds are going toward public transportation, electric vehicle charging stations and other transportation-related services, most of the monies will pay for the building of roads, bridges and sidewalks. A total of $158.8 million has been set aside for highways and interstates, $51.3 million for reconstructing intersections and $225 million to make needed bridge improvements.
Here is how that is expected to play out in St. Albans and Frankin County, according to VTrans planning documents obtained by the Messenger.
- A 6-mi.-long resurfacing of U.S. Highway 7 between Swanton and Highgate began construction in April, with a completion set for August. In its latest construction report, VTrans added that the scope of the work also includes realigning Monument and Decker roads with U.S. 7 and updating culverts. The estimated cost of the work is $2.6 million.
- Stormwater improvements near Interstate 89 in St. Albans got under way this past May. According to engineering reports, Rugg Brook is categorized as an impaired waterway due to stormwater runoff, and the project would start the construction of stormwater improvements, such as drainage basins, to reduce the impact of runoff near I-89 and Vt. Highway 36. The project is expected to be finished by October at a cost of $3.1 million.
- The paving project on the section of Vt. 78 between Lakewood Drive in Swanton and Depot Street in Highgate is starting, with a completion set for September, VTrans reported. Six mi. of pavement are scheduled for an update, as well as repairs to guardrails, some ditching and, potentially, the addition of rumble strips. The state agency estimates the work will have cost of $1.9 million when finished.
- Montgomery and Richford residents are familiar with two ongoing bridge replacements. In Montgomery, the work continues to erect a bridge along Vt. 118, where flaggers and temporary stop lights are currently controlling traffic; and in Richford, construction is progressing on the Vt. 105 bridge.
- In next year's construction season, almost 8 mi. of Vt. 105 extending east from St. Albans to Sheldon is due for milling and resurfacing. VTrans has slated a start date for May 2023, and the agency is currently working on the project's design. To prepare for its construction, VTrans is replacing culverts along the route this summer, and has announced that it expects to bid for the project in November.
- To make the trip between Fairfax and St. Albans a little smoother, VTrans is preparing to resurface 12 mi. on Vt. 104 next summer. The bid period for the work is expected to start next February.
- In Fairfax, the Vt. 104 bridge is due for a replacement, VTrans said. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2024, before completing in 2025.
- The transportation agency is set to conduct another project — the addition of new sidewalks — 3 mi. from the bridge project on the south side of Vt. 104, extending from Huntville to Paige roads. On the north side, sidewalks will be added just west of Buck Hollow Road. Tentatively, the target construction schedule is winter 2024 to summer 2025.
- The western half of Vt. 78 in Swanton is scheduled for reconstruction and widening between Alburgh and the Village of Swanton. During the two-year construction, drivers will contend with one-way alternating traffic, VTrans explained. The road project should begin in the winter of 2024 and be done by 2026.
While Vtrans often plans years ahead to keep up a revolving list of projects, the details, such as start dates and general plans, could very well change in the next three years, the St. Albans news source reported.
Here is what is currently on the books for the agency in 2025:
- Another sidewalk project has been planned for Franklin County, with this one designed to help the students of Missisquoi Valley Union High School in Swanton by the end of 2025. The new walkways are expected to extend from the eastern side of the Village of Swanton to the high school's driveway.
- An effort to update I-89 from Swanton to the Canadian border is one of the larger projects on this list. VTrans already completed some of its preliminary stages during Spring 2021. Future construction would consist of replacing the top 2 in. of pavement and updating guard rails and berms. The entire project, however, would require work on almost 25 mi. of highly trafficked pavement. VTrans expects bids to go out in late 2024, and the extensive resurfacing to extend through the 2025 road construction season.
- An update of Vt. 242, extending 6 mi. from Montgomery to Westfield, also is expected in 2025. Compared to standard paving resurfacing, VTrans has scheduled a reclamation effort for the project to consist of pulverizing the road into aggregate to later build it back up.
- Montgomery's Main Street could get some alternative transportation options due to pedestrian and bike path upgrades planned for 2025. Since preliminary plans for the project are scheduled to be completed next summer, details are sparse, the Messenger noted, except that they could affect North Main Street in Montgomery and Main Street in Montgomery Center.
Many VTrans construction projects have not yet appeared on the department's calendar as they may still be under review or need more funding.
Here is a rundown of those projects that are on Vermont's radar:
- Swanton's village center could be updated as early as 2026. The work would include improving pedestrian traffic by adding an all-way stop and installing sidewalks and blinkers. VTrans planning documents, however, show that the project is on hold.
- With the agency currently repaving U.S. 7 from Swanton to Highgate, VTrans is looking at updating a 4-mi.-length of the roadway between Swanton and St. Albans.
- Following the resurfacing of I-89, more general upgrades to the Swanton to Highgate section of the freeway are being considered by the state. Such improvements would include replacing traffic signals, making drainage bridges, repairing bridge decks and updating guardrails.
- In coordination with VTrans, the town of St. Albans is pursuing a buildout of a recreation path that could connect the Collins Perley Sports Center with the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail. Earlier, the municipality received a grant from the state agency to scope out the project. The proposed pathway would extend along Vt. 104 and run by Northwestern Medical Center and Hard'Ack Recreation Center before joining the rail trail.
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