VTrans back in court over diverging diamonds ruling

Published: Sep. 23, 2019 at 8:32 AM EDT
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Cheap gas from Costco hinges on a traffic project in Colchester that had the Vermont Transportation Agency back in court Monday.

VTrans wants to build the state's first diverging diamonds traffic pattern near Costco. But the Vermont Supreme Court yanked the needed Act 250 permit.

Right off Interstate 89's Exit 16 is where officials want to change the traffic pattern. Transportation officials say the $8 million project will help with traffic flow and ease congestion by getting cars off the interstate more easily with a crossover pattern.

The Environmental Court gave it the green light. The Supreme Court went along with all but the Act 250 permit, reversing the lower court's decision.

The project is being challenged by Skip Vallee who owns the nearby gas station Maplefields, along with the Conservation Law Foundation. They argue the project could pollute a stream close to the project and more study needs to be done.

Without the permit, Costco cannot open its already-built gas station.

Monday in court, our Ike Bendavid learned that a new trial will take place in mid-December.

"Here we are returning and reopening trial on very familiar issues with an opportunity to address chloride and phosphorus in relation to undue water pollution," Judge Thomas Walsh said.

VTrans officials had been optimistic the project could start moving forward next spring before the Supreme Court yanked the environmental permit.

If you want to learn more or voice your opinion, there is a public meeting on Tuesday with VTrans giving an update on the diverging diamonds project. There are two sessions at the Colchester town offices: one at 1 p.m. and one at 6:30 p.m.