Photo by Jennifer Langille
State officials have decided to discontinue an experiment designed to improve safety at the junction of Berlin State Highway (entering from the left in this photo) and Route 62. They will remove the pylons they installed and return the “Yield” sign they removed. Next year officials hope to reconfigure the area where the two roads converge as part of an upgrade to the nearby intersection of Route 62 and Airport and Fisher roads.
BERLIN — Some people love the sticklike white pylons that have created a dedicated lane for fast-moving traffic heading up the Berlin State Highway to Route 62 from the Barre-Montpelier Road; others, not so much.
Love them or hate them, state officials say the pylons won't be around much longer and the “Yield” sign they replaced will be making a comeback while the state refines plans to reconfigure the troublesome junction that feeds one of the most studied intersections in central Vermont.
An interim fix for the signalized intersection where Airport and Fisher roads meet Route 62 has been postponed until next year. That, officials say, is when they hope to construct a permanent solution for the poorly designed junction nearby.
The answer — a “chicane” — may have a familiar ring to race fans, but Josh Schultz, who is managing the entire intersection upgrade for the state Agency of Transportation, said it's technically not an engineering term.
Though Schultz said the agency has produced only the roughest of sketches so far, the concept — forcing traffic heading up the Berlin State Highway to curve slightly to the left and then swing back to the right before merging with Route 62 — has promise.
“We're evaluating it right now, but we think it could work,” he said.
Nothing else has.
According to Schultz, that includes the soon-to-be-abandoned experiment that relied on a string of plastic pylons to create a dedicated lane for Route 62-bound motorists who frequently ignored the “Yield” sign that was once posted at the top of the Berlin State Highway.
Thanks to mixed reviews and a number of reported near misses, Schultz said the pylons will be removed in the next several weeks, the road restriped and the “Yield” sign returned.
“We figured the old situation (with the 'Yield' sign) will be better to get us through this summer and winter,” he said, quickly conceding it is far from optimal.
“It's an awkward yield condition for both parties,” he said. “It kind of puts both drivers — on Route 62 and Berlin State Highway — in each others' blind spots.”
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