Regarding the death of a pedestrian crossing Route 7 by Day’s Inn in Rutland Town (“Pedestrian struck and killed in Rutland”) — I travel Route 7 South often and am always amazed that pedestrians have to take their lives in their hands to cross Route 7 at one of the most congested, confusing intersections on that section of highway. I refer to the intersection at Curtis Avenue in Rutland City. Two large motels in that block now house people on a long-term basis, and Route 7 is flanked by older residential neighborhoods. Residents are often seen crossing the highway to reach businesses, restaurants, motels and shops on either side of the road. There is no crosswalk, light-controlled or otherwise, across Route 7 at Curtis Avenue.
Mac’s convenience store, Panera restaurant, Econo Lodge Motel, Quality Inn, Marble Avenue, Aldi and now Ocean State Job Lot dump traffic into this multilane intersection. Route 7 features four lanes, two north and two south, with turning lanes in-between. Curtis Avenue, which ends at Route 7, has one right turn lane and one cross lane onto Route 7. An unnamed street, which is the access road to Panera and Ocean State Job Lot, also has two lanes — a cross-lane and a right turn lane — onto Route 7.
To complicate matters, Curtis Avenue and the unnamed street are slightly offset, so that drivers do not have a straight line of sight across the intersection and must watch two sets of cars at once, coming from opposite directions. It can be easy to miss a pedestrian who is trying to second-guess the traffic pattern.
The configuration requires you to have eyes in the back of your head to cross safely. Pedestrians sprint across between light changes.
Slightly less challenging, but only slightly, is the crosswalk at the end of Cold River Road. Recently a nice, wheelchair-accessible sidewalk was put down on Cold River Road from the Adele Stanley low-income apartments to Route 7. All well and good ... residents can now access the Aldi market, and there is a crossing and walk light at the intersection. But instead of being able to cross directly at the end of the sidewalk, first they must make a quick left across Cold River Road, keeping an eye open for turning traffic. That is also a tricky intersection, with four lanes both ways plus two center turn lanes.
Rutland is still a pedestrian town, and more people are making their daily rounds on bicycles. As someone who drives this stretch of road often, I cringe whenever I see an elderly person, someone pushing a stroller, or anyone, in fact, trying to negotiate these complicated traffic lights.
Rutland City, Vt. Agency of Transportation and the feds who administer Route 7 must put pedestrian signals and crosswalks at Curtis Avenue, on the next highway project if not before.
Must we wait until another pedestrian is needlessly killed before the highway engineers correct this glaring oversight?
Julia Purdy lives in Rutland.