CAVENDISH, Vt. – The Cavendish Select Board met on Jan. 8, 2018 to discuss the upcoming year and what it could mean for the small town. One of the key points of discussion revolved around the intersection between state Route 103 and Route 131 and the traffic issues associated with it. The intersection acts as the primary route between Cavendish and the nearby towns of Ludlow and Chester, and the recent accident involving a school bus makes the matter all the more pressing.
The source of the traffic issues can be traced to the closure of a local bridge. The Depot Street Bridge in Proctorsville was closed on Dec. 23, 2015, due to deterioration and structural damage. The bridge acted as a traffic decongestant by also connecting to Route 103, although “that intersection at Depot Street and Route 103 is also a dangerous one,” commented Town Manager, Brendan McNamara. The bridge closure has inconvenienced local commuters and the school transportation system for the area.
McNamara recollected when he was the facility and transportation supervisor at Green Mountain Union High School when the bridge first closed in 2015. He commented on its negative impact to the school bus transportation route between Cavendish and Chester. This forced the department to determine a safe maneuver for the bus to make when turning onto Route 103. It proved to be a challenging task, which he fears only added to the array of complications that the intersection now holds.
With the bridge still out of commission, the Select Board has been in communication with the state to remedy the situation, but it has proven to be an arduous task. Bruce McEnaney, assistant to the town manager, believes the issue could be easily resolved through speed reduction tactics.
“We need mechanical signage,” McEnaney said, “or flashing lights at that intersection.” He argued that positioning a patrol car in the vicinity of the intersection during dusk hours could prove to be a sufficient solution as “the blue lights slow people down.” He also noted that other traffic or warning signs should be posted.
The town had requested these changes last year, but were denied. Since then, traffic studies have been conducted by the state, yet they had observed a decrease in traffic issues. However, the Select Board has argued that the results were not a fair representation due to the fact that the state’s study took place on a Tuesday afternoon, a timeframe with minimal traffic in comparison to the busier winter weekend evenings. In the meantime, the Cavendish Select Board has agreed to revisit the issue and continue discussion with the state of Vermont to find a solution.
The Select Board then discussed the possibility of removing the town constable position since the former town constable, Seth Perry, resigned last year. It was argued that the police presence in Cavendish is more than satisfactory, and they’ve been running for seven months without anyone in that position. The issue will be brought to a vote at the Cavendish town meeting in the coming months, which allows the town to decide. The proposed cut would save the town approximately $8,400 a year.
The Select Board meets later this week to begin the discussion of the upcoming town budget, which they estimate will require about five meetings to complete.