The right lane of Route 2A is closed Tuesday as work begins to build a paved pedestrian path from Taft Corners to Hurricane Lane, crossing the Interstate 89 interchange at Exit 12. OBSERVER PHOTO BY JASON STARR
By Jason Starr
Expect a lot of moving parts and restricted travel in and around Interstate 89’s Exit 12 interchange for the foreseeable future as three separate State of Vermont projects break ground at about the same time.
When compete, toward the end of 2023, there will be a new 142-space park-and-ride, paved rec path and state police barracks just south of where Route 2A and the interstate intersect. But for the next several months, the area will be whirl of heavy equipment, excavation, construction and paving that will squeeze travel in all directions.
Construction of the park-and-ride to the south of Exit 12 and the paved path that will connect Hurricane Lane to Taft Corners under the overpass broke ground this month. Already, one lane of Route 2A is closed as crews clear vegetation along the east side of the road for the paved path. Construction is starting in front of the existing State Police barracks and will continue south under the overpass and up the hill to Hurricane Lane. The path will connect the hotel and businesses there with the existing Taft Corners sidewalk network.
Currently, pedestrians are forced to walk on the road through the Exit 12 area.
“Through the underpass, there’s no room at all (for pedestrians). This will provide safe passage,” said VTrans project engineer Chris Lavalette.
The path is expected to be complete by this fall. Included in the project is a new dedicated right-turn lane for cars travelling southbound on 2A to enter the on-ramp to I-89 north. The traffic lights at the interchange will also be upgraded.
Simultaneously, on the other side of the road, crews have begun clearing land for the park-and-ride, which will share an access road off of Route 2A with the new State Police barracks. Once the access road is built and utility lines placed — expected by mid-July — construction will begin on the police barracks.
There are three different contractors for the three projects.
“All of our contractors have to work together because it’s a very congested area,” said VTrans engineer Tina Bohl. “We are coordinating things to make sure the public isn’t inconvenienced too much.”
Construction of a new left-turn lane for northbound traffic to enter the park-and-ride and State Police barracks will have the most traffic impact on Route 2A. The rest of the construction will happen on a hillside away from the road. Completion is anticipated by the end of next year.
The park-and-ride has been about a decade in the making. It is being built primarily to take pressure off the park-and-ride at Exit 11 in Richmond, a 158-space lot that is the most used park-and-ride in the state. It will be a place for people to coordinate carpooling and potentially board the commuter bus to Montpelier, although Green Mountain Transit has not committed to making the stop, according to Bohl.
“Usually, when we build it, they will come,” she said. “We’re building it to accommodate … the biggest bus that there is.”
The state will use the new police barracks for more than just the State Police. It will also be an emergency command center, 911 call center and Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department office. Two jail cells and storage garages for vehicles and boats are also being built on the 50-acre site.