Traffic safety around Green continues to concern Weston board

By Cherise Madigan
©2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Weston Select Board, at its Feb. 9 meeting, continued to explore options to improve traffic safety around the Weston Town Green at Vermont Route 100.

Although the posted speed limit slows to 30 mph before vehicles enter downtown Weston, the area has seen a number of accidents that board members attribute to speeding vehicles.

Weston board vice chair Jim Linville.

Chair Denis Benson said that the site had seen “one or two” fatalities in recent memory. While the board at its last meeting discussed placing Jersey barriers around the Green to protect town residents and property, Road Foreman Almon Crandall said on Tuesday that the barriers probably wouldn’t be sufficient to hold back a vehicle in that context, especially since the road is so close to a downward slope.

Crandall said a flashing light used to be located on Route 100 before it entered the town, but it was knocked over years ago and was never replaced. Benson suggested that the town look into a traffic light that only comes on when vehicles approach, similar to a speed cart, since  some downtown residents had complained about the lights on the previous signs. Board member Bruce Downer agreed, saying that drivers would be more likely to ignore a static sign.

Vice chair Jim Linville said that an Agency of Transportation rule mandating a minimum posted speed limit of 30 mph on Vermont highways was dangerous, and suggested writing a letter to the agency or Gov. Phil Scott about the issue. The statutory minimum width of the road may also contribute to accidents, he said, suggesting that widening the road could also be a solution. According to Amy Tatko at the Agency of Transportation, the only roads in Vermont that have minimum speed limits are the interstate highways, which are posted for a 40 mph minimum.

Ultimately, Crandall agreed to speak with the Agency of Transportation to see what options are available to the town and report back to the board.

Board eyes state funding for Trout Club Road culvert

Linville also plans to follow up with the AOT about a planned culvert replacement on Trout Club Road, which may hinge on the grant funding of up to $175,000 that the town hopes to receive for the project. Though it had been budgeted for the 2020 fiscal year, the project had been delayed until funding came through.

According to Benson, Weston has not received an AOT grant in years. While Linville had hoped to begin the bidding process for engineering services, Benson argued that it would be prudent to wait until grants are issued. The project’s cost is too high for the town to cover alone, he said.

“That’s 8 or 8.5 cents on the tax rate if we take it out of our pocket,” Benson said. “That’s too much for voters to do.”

If AOT funding does not come through another option may be to place a corrugated-steel tent over the cracked culvert to divert water away and mitigate further damage.

Town Meeting deadlines, format discussed

Weston’s Select Board will decide whether to proceed with an in-person Town Meeting or mailed Australian ballots at its March 23 meeting, and members began to review the logistics of both options on Tuesday. At its last meeting, the board moved to delay Town Meeting until Tuesday, May 25.

Town Clerk Kim Seymour

The planned deadline for petitions to add an article to Weston’s Town Meeting warning is April 8, though the requirement for signatures has been waived this year due to the pandemic. If petitions are received, it may be mid-April before the warning is signed by the board, according to Town Clerk Kim Seymour. The deadline for Weston’s warning is April 25.

If voting proceeds by Australian ballot, the town will need to hold an informational meeting — likely via Zoom — between May 15 and 24. There will be “other hoops to jump through” for mail-in voting if that option is chosen in March, Seymour said.

Additionally, the board asked Seymour to prepare and mail a postcard to Weston residents notifying them of the decision to delay Town Meeting.

In other action:

  • The board reviewed a discounted membership rate promoted by the Okemo Valley Chamber of Commerce and briefly deliberated membership, though members seemed to be in favor of forgoing membership. Board Member Anne Fuji’i agreed to follow up with the chamber and report back at Weston’s next meeting.
  • Following feedback from residents, the board will collect price quotes for sprucing up the paint job on Weston’s welcome signs.
  • Mice at the Weston Town Office have been chewing up … mice. (The ones attached to the town computers, that is.) Board members agreed to look into hiring an exterminator.
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About the Author: Journalist and photographer Cherise Madigan specializes in writing about outdoor recreation, the environment and travel. She has roots in Manchester and a history of reporting throughout Southern Vermont. Madigan is a graduate of Nazareth College of Rochester, earning her degree in Political Science summa cum laude in 2015.

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