I-91 Park and Ride Lot to Close; State to Overhaul Location at Exit 9

Hartland — Commuters who use a state-owned park and ride lot at Exit 9 off Interstate 91 will soon have to find an alternate location for the next several months while the state completes a major upgrade.

Construction will begin Monday and isn’t scheduled to be completed until the end of August. Project Supervisor Wayne Davis, with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said work could finish sooner but he could not be certain.

“We have an aggressive construction schedule but it depends on a lot, including the weather. There were a lot of factors that went into deciding on an August opening,” Davis said.

The original park and ride at Exit 9 was paved with 20 spaces in 1999, said Jacqueline Dagesse, public outreach manager for the AOT. Six years later, AOT bought more land and expanded the lot with an unpaved portion and a total of 52 spaces .

When finished, the renovated park and ride will have 55 spaces and be completely paved and striped. Among the other planned improvements are a bus shelter, better lighting, bicycle racks, electric vehicle charging stations, landscaping and signage.

Dagesse said the project will cost $328,000.

Davis said one of the primary reasons for the project is to make it easier for the large Connecticut River Transit buses to access the facility.

“The buses will be able to make it through the facility better than they do now,” Davis said. “Buses will need the back section to turn around.”

There will be some minor expansion for the bus access, but it will be limited because of restrictions on the surrounding property.

“One side is the interstate (exit ramp) and the other sides (east and south) are in conservation,” Davis said. “The site is constrained. There is not a whole lot of room to expand, so the lot we have is pretty much all we’ve got.”

The reconstructed facility will be more organized so cars aren’t parked “willy-nilly” as they are now in the area where there is no pavement or striping, Davis said.

Rebecca Gagnon, general manager of Connecticut River Transit, said its buses transport about 450 riders a month from the Hartland park and ride. With the possibility that the facility could be closed for at least four months, Gagnon said Connecticut River Transit worked with the Vermont Agency of Transportation on a solution for an alternative bus route to accommodate their ridership.

“We didn’t want to lose those riders, so what we have elected to do is get off (I-91) Exit 8 in Ascutney and travel up Route 5 to Exit 9 and pick up riders wherever they are able to find a place to park,” Gagnon said. “Hopefully, people will congregate in clusters (for pickup).”

“We think it will add about seven minutes (to the total travel time), but we may have to tweak it a little once we have a better handle on it,” Gagnon said.

The closest alternate park and ride lots are at Exit 8 in Ascutney and Exit 11 in Wilder, according to AOT. There are 65 spaces in Weathersfield, nearly all of which were in use one morning this week, and 38 in Wilder on Route 5.

Dagesse said she has received calls from a few motorists who use the Hartland lot and have asked what their options are.

“Everybody who spoke to us has been able to find a different location,” Dagesse said Tuesday.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com .