Posted at: 08/30/2012 5:29 PM
| Updated at: 08/30/2012 5:37 PM
By: Abigail Bleck
BENNINGTON, VT.--Words are important to Jim Carroll. The downtown Bennington vendor and the hot dog stand he runs share a first name, after all. So, by definition, Carroll is not pleased with the project.
"They don't call it a bypass for no reason," explains Carroll.
The three mile stretch reroutes traffic away from downtown via a perimeter highway and is intended to relieve congestion in historic Bennington and improve flow for commercial traffic.
"Those trucks aren't always compatible with a pleasant and livable downtown," says Greg Nadeau of the Federal Highway Administration during Thursday's ribbon cutting ceremony.
Thursday marks the completion of Leg two and the opening of SR 279 but it's been a long time coming. Its ground breaking was back in 2004, work on Leg one began in 1999 and the whole concept was hatched nearly six decades ago.
"Whoever said we don't get things done quickly in the state of Vermont?" joked Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, "This project had more lives than any cat on this earth."
The $72-million bypass has been funded, mostly, through state and federal gas taxes which authorities claim aren't performing well. So Leg three is a very, very distant reality.
"It is the last aspect of this project. There is not a schedule at this point, it's all driven by money," says Brian Searles, Vermont's Secretary of Transportation.
So is Jim Carroll, who hopes drivers bypass the bypass.
"Especially during leaf season, which is coming up. I hope they remember Bennington and spread the wealth ."
Work on Leg two of the bypass was delayed slightly because the contractor helped the state repair roads after damage from Tropical Storm Irene.