COLCHESTER, Vt. – As the Vermont Agency of Transportation moves forward with longstanding plans to reconfigure the Route 7 corridor near I-89 Exit 16, the agency is urging Vermonters to take a close look at the incoming changes on a new interactive website.
The project area extends from in the Colchester-Winooski town line north for approximately 1 mile, to just beyond the intersection of Sunderland Woods Road. The multi-year project, scheduled to begin Summer 2022, will eventually reconfigure the existing tight diamond interchange to a Diverging Diamond Interchange at I-89 Exit 16.
Upon the initial rollout of the reconfiguration, VTrans project manager Michael LaCroix said some people may have been confused. The new website has made it easier to show more drivers how traffic will flow via driving animations and renderings.
“Verbally to folks, we were not getting the message across effectively, but as soon as people start seeing a video, the lightbulbs just went off, and it was night and day,” LaCroix said.
Viewers are guided through multiple angles of the planned interchange, and the animations also highlight other incoming changes: additional turn lanes on the Mountain View Drive, Hercules Drive and Rathe Road intersections, dedicated pedestrian and bicycle facilities and modernized traffic signals throughout the corridor. VTrans had been using an interactive simulator to show people how the project will change the corridor, but COVID-19 has made it difficult to use it.
“When it’s all said and done, it’s going to be fairly intuitive,” LaCroix said.
The $14 million project also aims to make the intersections safer. Lacroix said 25,000 cars move through this section of the Route 7 corridor each day.
“There were known safety issues at those intersections, so we were able to focus our design to address the congestion, which in turn helped us address some of the safety issues,” LaCroix said.
Construction is now scheduled to begin Summer/Fall 2022 and wrap up by Spring 2025.
VTrans has said most of the construction will occur at night, with the goal of alleviating traffic delays and mitigating the impact on local businesses.
When completed, the project will become Vermont’s first diverging diamond interchange. Last year, LaCroix said other states with the same design have seen a 50% reduction in congestion and crashes.