The Select Board will tell the state it wants to keep the slip lane joining Route 7 and East Pittsford Road.

Select Board Chairman Joshua Terenzini said Wednesday that the board met Tuesday for a special meeting, and voted 3 to 2 in favor of the Agency of Transportation keeping the northbound slip lane.

Terenzini said he and board members Mary Ashcroft and Sharon Russell voted to keep the slip lane while selectmen Joe Denardo and John Paul Faignant voted against it.

At the board’s regularly scheduled meeting last week, Matt Bogaczyk, pavement design project manager for the Agency of Transportation, outlined the agency’s proposal. He said the state plans to begin repaving that section of Route 7 in the spring. While drawing up designs for the project, the agency looked into the area’s crash history and found there have been nine in the five years prior to 2018.

He said while that’s not considered “high” by the agency’s standards, it’s enough to warrant a design change. Bogaczyk said at the meeting that the AOT doesn’t want to force changes on communities where said changes aren’t wanted, which is why it sought the board’s opinion.

The board actually held a vote that evening, which came in at 2 to 1 in favor of keeping the slip lane. Only Terenzini, Denardo (The only “no” vote) and Ashcroft were present, which led the board to believe the vote wouldn’t hold any weight, hence the special Tuesday meeting.

Terenzini said in an interview Wednesday that despite inclement weather, several people attended the second meeting and made their thoughts known. The public was overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the slip lane. He said a letter will be drafted and sent to Bogaczyk.

The agency will likely do as the town wishes, said Terenzini. He said this isn’t the only time AOT has wanted to make a change to a roadway the town doesn’t want, citing an agency proposal to reduce a section of Business Route 4 between Rutland Town and West Rutland from four to three lanes. He said the agency agreed to keep it four lanes there.

Bogaczyk had not returned an email seeking comment as of press time Wednesday.

“We dropped the ball on this one,” Denardo said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Denardo said he feels the AOT traffic engineers were right in that removing the slip lane would make the area safer. He said the state engineers are experts with regard to traffic and have data from across the country to back them up.

Denardo said he’s concerned also about the town’s legal liability should there be an incident involving the intersection. He said an attorney might argue the town was given a chance to make the intersection safer, and opted not to do so.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com

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Raes

VTrans did not sufficiently prove their case with regard to the accidents and a complete thorough traffic study. Mr. Denardo’s comment about the Town’s liability being limited if the Board accepted the change was debunked at the first meeting when my husband asked Mr. Bogaczyk if the State would indemnify the Town. He did not answer yes. I’m proud of the three Select Board members who voted to keep the slip lane. They did what was in the best interest of the residents.

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