Shelburne Town Manager Joe Colangelo, with the assistance of various safety studies, meetings, and a significant amount of community input, has arrived at a temporary solution for the traffic issues at the underpass on Bay Road. On June 1, the town will place stop signs at either end of the underpass, creating a single-lane, alternate use situation.
The bridge on Bay Road has a narrow underpass below it, which is frequently traveled by motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. The underpass causes safety concerns because, the town’s web site says, there are “limited sight distances, elevated traffic speeds and narrow travel lanes at the underpass, creating dangerous conditions.”
Colangelo said that over his two years as town manager, “I’ve heard consistent concerns from neighbors there, from the bike path committee, and many others about safety concerns. I [have] run on that road and just about got squished by cars running both ways.”
The town of Shelburne is working with the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) to conduct the Pilot Project at the underpass. In addition to the stop signs, pedestrian walkways will be designated for non-motorized access through the tunnel. The town and the CCRPC will monitor the project for five to six months.
Colangelo said, “This is outside-the-box thinking; it would be cost prohibitive to do anything with the bridge…this seemed like a unique idea that was worth giving a shot.”
Citizens who are concerned about stopping traffic at the underpass worry that it will cause traffic delays during busy school drop off and pick up times and during summer traffic situations for people heading to Shelburne Farms and destinations on Shelburne Point. Colangelo said an earlier planning commission study mentioned these stop signs as a potential option, and that he reached out to people on the Point and at the Farms before he made his final decision.
“We’re going to see how it plays out during the pilot part of the project,” he said. This will monitor the underpass “during the summer when people are active with biking and running, and during the school year.”
The project will have minimal costs, Colangelo said, with only stripe lines and the new stop signs needing to be purchased. He said, “If it doesn’t work, nothing is permanent, and if it does work then it can continue.”
Shelburne residents are encouraged to visit the town’s web site, where a survey has been set up so citizens can offer their opinions, experiences, and comments. Colangelo stressed that above all else, “Safety is our biggest concern.”