State, town considering three roundabouts on Northside Drive | Local News

In this article, you will get all the information regarding State, town considering three roundabouts on Northside Drive | Local News

BENNINGTON — City and state highway planners have been circling for years over the need to improve Northside Drive. But now it appears both sides are seriously considering building three roundabouts along the busy road to ease traffic flow and allow for some beautification of the strip.

Bennington City Manager Stuart Hurd told the Select Board this week roundabouts are in the early planning stages, including a large circle at the Route 7/Kocher Drive intersection, a roundabout medium-sized point at the intersection of Benmont Avenue and a smaller circle at Hicks Avenue and Orchard Road near the McDonald’s restaurant.

“It’s pretty exciting, that the state is finally heading in this direction,” Hurd told the Council Monday night. “It’s been a long time coming, and we’re pretty happy. (State engineers) seem to be pretty excited about the potentials. It will really do a lot to move traffic to the Northside Drive area.

In an interview Tuesday, Hurd said that work is in its early stages, and the process could take eight years — or probably longer — before any of the three projects get underway. At Monday night’s meeting, board chair Jeannie Jenkins jokingly asked, “In our lifetime?”

“It’s a yes, it will happen in our lifetime,” Hurd replied.

“It’s exciting,” Jenkins said. “It’s very exciting.”

Hurd said two hearings are needed. The first, called the “local concerns meeting,” will be held on February 13. The state-hired traffic engineering company – VHB – will present its preliminary findings for the three sites and obtain feedback and comments from the public. The engineers will return in April to present more detailed proposals and traffic data for the public.

“It’s a two-step process. If they are successful and the community is supportive of it, which I hope the community would be, they will report back to the state and the state will make a decision on the project,” Hurd said.

He said years ago the city did a survey of potential roundabouts on Northside Drive and found that virtually every intersection could use one. There is currently a roundabout at the Pizza Hut/Walmart intersection. Hurd said he was unaware the state had initiated its own study until he was recently informed that engineers were interested in the three roundabout sites mentioned.

The proposal would also allow roundabout plantings to help beautify the Northside Drive strip, which is largely commercial and industrial.

Northside Drive is state property, he added. Unless there is a change of ownership for any reason, the state would bear the costs of the projects. Hurd said he hopes the state will also fix some of the drainage issues on Northside Drive. Bennington considered taking ownership of the road, but not before those projects were completed, he added.

The city recently learned that Starbucks and possibly Chipotle are planning to locate restaurants near the Northside Drive/Benmont Avenue intersection. Hurd said the proposed roundabout would help there.

“It will be a difficult site to get in and out of, so that would probably help that,” he said.

“We know roundabouts move traffic,” Hurd said. The proposed circles for Northside Avenue “will make things a lot smoother along that stretch.”

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State, town considering three roundabouts on Northside Drive | Local News

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