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Hartland to Move Forward With Intersection Expansion

The Three Corners intersection is getting closer to its long-overdo makeover.

The Selectboard voted this week to move forward with building a traditional four-way intersection designed to streamline traffic flow. An option to build a roundabout was voted down.

The decision to move forward at this time isn’t surprising, said Town Manager Bob Stacey, even though several studies meant to explore options for a better, safer intersection have been conducted since the 1970s.

Since then, Stacey noted, Hartland has grown in population. As a result, more cars, bicyclists and pedestrians are on the street at any given time, necessitating the need to redesign the intersection.

“I think there’s more of an interest in creating more of a welcoming center of town,” Stacey said.

Over the past three months, the Selectboard has whittled down a list of four designs, first proposed in a study conducted 18 years ago.

The next step, according to David Saladino, the White River Junction architect hired to prepare the study, is to refine the design and cost estimate and present the next version of the plan to the board in February.

Preliminary estimates put the cost of building the four-way intersection at about $340,000, Saladino said. The roundabout, by contrast, would have cost about $40,000 more. Saladino’s final report is due in July.

Four of the five Selectboard members voted in favor of the four-way intersection, Stacey said. The sole dissenter was Richard Waddell, who preferred the roundabout option, arguing that it reduces gas consumption, keeps traffic flowing and, because it’s a newer architectural idea, might have a better chance of receiving funding from the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

Although he’s not against a four-way intersection — after all, something has to be done, he said — Waddell called passing over the roundabout option a missed opportunity.

“I think that people are reluctant to change,” he said. “They haven’t had a lot of experience with roundabouts, and they don’t think outside the box.”

The Selectboard’s decision follows a public hearing last month during which about 30 Hartland residents were divided into three groups and asked to choose the plan they liked best. At the time, a “split intersection” model in which Hartland-Quechee Road would make a “T” intersection with Route 12, and Route 5 would make a second “T” intersection with Route 12, was also on the table.

The four-way intersection design will shave a bend of Route 5 furthest from Damon Hall, creating an opportunity for landscaping and, potentially, space for parallel parking, Saladino said. While Route 12 will still run east to west as it currently does, Hartland-Quechee Road will be moved over to align with Route 5 going north and south.

After next February’s meeting, the town will begin to seek funding for the project. Stacey, the town manager, said he’ll try to work with VTrans, which funded $24,000 of the $30,000 exploratory study passed by voters at Town Meeting earlier this year, to procure funding.

Saladino, the architect, said that while town officials usually look for funding on their own, he’s planning on helping Hartland to find available grants and other methods of funding.

“This has been a very interesting project,” Saladino said. “I think it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. I’m personally interested in seeing this come to fruition.”

And even though its not yet known where the money will come from, Stacey and town officials said this is the right time to redesign the intersection.

“I’m very optimistic that this will move forward,” Stacey said. “I think there’s enough momentum now.”

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

Related

Letter: Try Some Winter Upkeep, Hartland

Saturday, December 22, 2012

To the Editor: It’s nice that Hartland is willing to spend $340,000 on fixing the Three Corners intersection, as that is well overdue. However, I was wondering why it seems like the town spends nothing on winter upkeep of their half of the Hartland/Brownsville Road? When coming or going to the Upper Valley, the interstate, Route 5, Route 12 and …