How much longer until you can gas up at Costco?

By  | 

COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) It has been a long wait for some drivers.

"All these private gas companies have been gouging us for years," a nearby driver said.

Now, construction is actually done on the gas station at Costco in Colchester.

"Might make it harder to go to Costco, too, traffic-wise," another driver said.

But there's no gas in the pumps. Its permit says the station can't actually open until changes to improve traffic at the busy intersection are done. And those could be years away. Some drivers tell us they're frustrated.

"I mean, look at the Circ," a driver told us. "That's another example of something that's supposed to help us all with efficiency."

Part of the reason drivers want this open so much-- Costco's prices. Company officials declined to speak with us on camera but congressional testimony from a Costco official about the long legal fight with competitors to open the station makes clear how much cheaper it could be. Back in 2012, the company predicted prices in Colchester would be as much as 25 cents less per gallon than other area stations. A VP said, "Costco's policy concerning gasoline pricing is simple: we will not be undersold by competitors in our market areas." And even... "...where it is lawful to do so-- we sell below our cost, usually on a temporary basis."

The company that owns Maplefields and another local gas dealer led the fight against Costco's gas station plan in court, citing environmental and traffic concerns. Now, Maplefields owner Skip Vallee is working with the Conservation Law Foundation fighting the state over VTrans' plans to rebuild the nearby interstate exit, plans that include those key road improvements Costco needs to open its gas station. Their main concerns? Vallee's attorney Jon Anderson says the need for a bike path or sidewalk and better environmental practices to keep phosphorus out of local waterways.

VTrans says that lawsuit has not changed its construction schedule; it's still set to start in 2020. If Costco wants to do the road improvements it needs sooner than that, VTrans says the company can do that. Whether Costco will is not clear because, again, officials declined to talk with us.