VTrans takes feedback for Colchester ‘diverging diamond’ project

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 8:14 AM EST
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - On Thursday evening, VTrans held a meeting to discuss VTrans’ planned “diverging diamond interchange” in Colchester. VTrans officials have called the current situation a “high crash location” and said the new design should ease traffic delays and safety concerns.

The project, the first of its kind in Vermont, is being created at Interstate 89′s Exit 16 near Costco. It calls for both directions of traffic to cross to the opposite side of the intersection to ease left-hand turns on and off the interstate. Officials say this will reduce traffic and crashes in the area. Roughly 25,000 cars pass through it each day.

“To get on a high crash location list you need to have five in five years,” said project manager, Michael Lacroix. “This, I believe exceeded that by five or six times.”

In other states, areas that started using the diverging diamond traffic pattern saw accidents went down 37% and vehicles throughout went up 50%. While it looks confusing at first, Lacroix says it’s more driver and pedestrian friendly than the current variety of intersections.

“It was the best alternative to address the safety and capacity issues the corridor faces,” he said. “Vermonters pick things up pretty quickly, so we’re hoping they pick this up pretty quickly as well.”

After some legal battles about environmental concerns, the next step of the process is making sure those who pass through the area know about the upcoming work.

“I understand widening the road, but I don’t understand what all this stuff is that’s going to lead to mass confusion,” said one person at Thursday’s meeting.

“I’ve driven through these in Utah, said another attendee, Michael Quaid of Williston. “They just do a great job. It should not be difficult for people to figure it out.”

Despite the mixed opinions, Lacroix says the project is a done deal.

“It’ll be a busy area for the next couple of years and we just want to make sure people are well informed,” he said.

Phase one of this project, which does not include roadway construction, is expected to cost $7-million. That work will be done in late 2024 and is expected to be closer to $12-million. Lacroix says they plan to break ground on the work by the end of this January.

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