Stowe struggles to find solutions to traffic troubles

Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT
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STOWE, Vt. (WCAX) - More people are moving to and visiting the town of Stowe than ever. A traffic study shows the increase in traffic is pushing people off the main routes to side roads.

Backed-up traffic spurred the town to get the traffic study done to see what areas need improvements.

“On a regular basis it’s not too bad, but during peak seasons, especially foliage season, it gets really backed up,” said Katelyn Hudson who works and lives in Stowe.

She says sometimes the heavy traffic is overwhelming.

“It’s a little frustrating, but this is how the town makes its money on tourism. So it’s a little give and take,” Hudson said.

Over the last decade, the town has seen a 21% population increase.

Before the pandemic, the town was bringing in $1 million in tourism a year. Now, it’s an average of $1.5 million a year.

The town has teamed up with the South Burlington-based engineering and consulting firm Stantec to conduct a comprehensive traffic study during all four seasons.

“Our road network is limited. The recent traffic light at West Hill and Route 100 was important. It helped, but it is not enough. Hopefully, the state will follow through with a traffic light at the Mountain Road, Luce Hill intersection, a roundabout at the Moscow 100 intersection,” Stowe Town Manager Charles Safford said.

Safford says the town sees the most traffic around the holidays, and many tourists are taking shortcuts around the village, congesting backroads and making residents’ commutes longer.

The study reveals roads are busiest during fall and summer-- not winter-- even when many out-of-staters flock to local ski resorts.

Some residents worry additional road signs and lights would diminish Stowe’s character.

“I agree that it is a historic town, so putting a light here in the middle of town would really kind of take away from the old kind of energy,” said Terri Gregory of Hyde Park.

The town of Stowe is trying to find alternative solutions to solve the problem. That includes looking at new parking spaces and maybe adding a trolley for summer and fall instead of just in the winter.