Rutland traffic experiment causes controversy - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Rutland traffic experiment causes controversy

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Reducing the four lanes on busy Route 4 in Rutland to two and adding a bike lane has city officials describing the 30-day traffic experiment as so far, so good.

"What we've seen over the past several days, now that the new striping is in place, is traffic is flowing smoothly," Rutland City Police Sgt. John Sly said.

Those with businesses along the busy thoroughfare say they're not so sure.

"Yeah, if I was the people behind this, I wouldn't do a victory lap yet. It's a little too early to say that it's gonna be all hunky-dory," said Johnny Petrone of Johnny Boy's Pancake House.

The city of Rutland and VTrans are testing the changes as part of Act 34 complete streets legislation. They're trying to incorporate different means and modes of transportation into road projects. The test has sparked controversy and even a Facebook page with those opposing the idea leaving heated comments.

One area of concern is where Rutland High School is located due to the already heavy school traffic, but some students welcome the plan.

"It hasn't gotten worse; it's been the same since the beginning of the year," said James Murray, a student at Rutland High School.

Although some have commented that bike riding is not common enough in Rutland to warrant a bike lane, others say it might encourage people to start using them.

"Yeah, I would ride a bike here, definitely," said Brian Bodell, a Rutland High School student.

Officials say those who haven't quite warmed up to the idea may eventually come around.

"It obviously is a learning curve for motorists," Sly said.

But one business owner told us off camera that her business has gone down 35 percent since the experiment started. When peak tourism season arrives, she thinks that's only going to get worse.

The change is at this point still just an experiment and the city is taking feedback from all business owners throughout the month of May while they try it out.

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