PLAINFIELD — Local officials are drafting a letter to urge state officials to come up with a “robust” fix for the problem intersection at Route 2 and Main Street in Plainfield.
At its regular meeting Monday night, the Select Board heard from Road Commissioner Bram Towbin and Dave Strong, a member of Friends of the Plainfield Town Hall Opera House. The Town Hall sits on Route 2 right next to the problem intersection.
For several years local officials have been trying to get the state to fix the intersection. The issues with the spot, where Main Street dips down into the village at a bend in Route 2 marked by a single blinking yellow light, stem from poor sight lines, and the slope down onto Main Street can be especially hazardous in winter due to ice and snow. The intersection also sits in Plainfield’s village which is a designated historic district.
“This particular intersection is the poster child for all the problems that you could absolutely encounter in terms of slope, historical district buildings. Everything that’s a problem exists at this intersection,” Towbin said.
Towbin and Strong said they recently met with officials at the Agency of Transportation to discuss possible fixes for the intersection.
One possibility entails removing the island that sits next to the intersection and lowering the grade two feet on Route 2 so that sight lines are better and driving is easier for those driving onto Route 2 from Main Street. This was referred to as the “robust” solution.
But Towbin said the state also suggested a “quick fix” where the island would be removed and a slope would be installed off of Route 2 towards the village so that a guardrail on the island along Route 2, which has been contributing to sight issues, could be removed.
Strong said another issue with the intersection is its “constructability.”
“They want to be able to move traffic along Route 2 while they are doing the improvement,” Strong said. But because there isn’t much room to work with at that intersection, it’s been difficult to figure out what to do with the Route 2 traffic.
Towbin said if the state went with the robust approach, it would take three or four months to complete which means that part of Main Street might have to be shut down for that time.
He said the state seemed most excited about the quick fix solution though it is not what the town wants because it wouldn’t address many of the issues the intersection now faces, such as a blind curve when driving towards East Montpelier on Route 2 and the steep slope on Main Street.
Towbin noted the state has spent millions of dollars on fixing other parts of Route 2, such as the roundabout in Montpelier and the redesign in the center of Danville, and this project deserves the same amount of attention.
Select Board Chairman Ross Sneyd said he would draft a letter to the Agency of Transportation which would also be sent to Gov. Phil Scott and those that represent Plainfield in the Legislature and other stakeholders. The letter would let officials know the town does not want a quick fix for the intersection.
Towbin suggested the letter also let state officials know the town wants to be included in the decision making process and should be notified before any funding for the intersection fix is sought.
The board will discuss and possibly sign the letter at its next meeting Dec. 10.