PUTNEY — On Dec. 1, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) announced the soft opening of the new State Park and Ride facility off I-91 Exit 4.
Scheduled for final completion in the spring of 2016, the new facility is located at 18 Carl Snyder Drive, off US Route 5 behind the Putney Fire Station. The 83-space lot includes a bus shelter, bike racks and 12 outlets for a level one charging facility for electric vehicles. According to VTrans Project Manager Wayne Davis, a bike rack shelter will be installed and final landscaping and site improvements will be complete by the spring.
"It's an ideal location and is important environmentally because it is more efficient to move more people with less vehicles on our highway system," said Davis.
This facility is open 24 hours, seven days a week and the Connecticut River Transit (CRT) makes four stops from 6:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and four more stop between 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. This is the CRT route number 53 that travels to and from Bellows Falls and Brattleboro.
"There have been a lot of unforseen challenges, but I'm hoping that the lighting system is a lot better than what people may have feared it would have been," said Davis. He further explained that in the past, citizens expressed their worries of night glow and sky glow and over lighting at the park and ride. "I have not received any complaints since it opened," he said.
According to Davis, VTrans had planned to install the bike rack shelter before 2016, but the company they were going through suffered a severe fire that burned the white oak beam shelter. Davis said he could not remember which company they were going through at that time, but believes that the fire occurred this past summer.
"I'm just happy it's open," said Davis.
A sigh of relief is almost expected from many members of the community since this project has been a long time coming. The Windham Regional Commission has been involved with this project since the Regional Park and Ride Study was updated in 1988 and then again in 2003. According to Matt Mann, senior transportation planner of the Windham Regional Commission, this location was selected based on the proximity to I-91, commuting data in the I-91 corridor and the need for a state maintained park and ride in the region along I-91.
"Overall this is a project that will benefit not only Putney, Dummerston and Brattleboro, but also other towns, residents and visitors for many years to come," said Mann.
According to Davis, the project has cost nearly $500,000, which does not include the relocation of the transmission line. The park and ride is maintained by the VTrans, as opposed to the town, which is typically the case for municipal park and rides.
"There are a few items left to be done before we consider the facility complete," Davis emphasized. "But we want people to know it's open and we plan for it to be done in the spring of 2016."