Brattleboro readies for massive road projects
04/24/03 12:00AM By Susan Keese
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(Host) Warm weather means construction on many Vermont roadways. But in Brattleboro, residents and business owners are preparing for three major transportation projects.
VPR's Susan Keese has more:
(Keese) The bridge over the Whetstone Brook at the southern end of the downtown shopping district has been a concern for decades. It's scheduled to be replaced this summer. Town officials were hoping that a single lane of Main Street traffic could remain open while the reconstruction is underway.
But last week the contractor said the project could be finished a month early if the bridge - and the bottom of Main Street - are closed entirely. Acting Brattleboro Town Manager David Emery says the detour starts Monday and will be in effect through October. It calls for a circle of one way traffic on several downtown side streets.
(Emery) "In the long run, I think it's going to be very convenient. I think we're probably going to end up liking it very much. It'll reduce congestion at the lights. So we think it's an appropriate thing to try anyways."
(Keese) Also under construction in the area of the detour is a new transportation center. Several buildings were razed earlier this year for the four-deck parking garage expected to be finished in the fall.
To complicate things even more, the Connecticut River bridge to Hinsdale, New Hampshire, will also be undergoing repairs in a few weeks. That bridge will be closed to all traffic between 10:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. while repairs are under way. Emery said the town expected more complaints from downtown merchants. But everyone realized the improvements were needed.
(Emery) "When everything started to come together we had a meeting with all the downtown merchants and said, what do you think? And they were behind this plan. And of course getting it done quicker is more attractive to them."
(Keese) Bob Woodworth of Burrows Specialized Sports says he thinks the plan makes sense.
(Woodworth) "Initially I wasn't too excited about Main Street being totally closed down. But having heard how the plan's going to work, I really think it's the best solution. I don't think that there's a whole lot of people that just happen to be wandering through town that wouldn't find a parking place in one of the off-street lots and come to town if they wanted to visit."
(Keese) For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Susan Keese in Brattleboro.