NORTH BENNINGTON >> The Trustees of the Village of North Bennington delivered an update on Tuesday on the status of the intersection of Main Street and Bank Street, which has perturbed truck drivers since its unveiling over two years ago.
Local business owner Art Whitman pointed out that, should the village continue to leave the intersection as is, it would continue to pose both a safety hazard and a liability concern. Board chairman Matthew Patterson indicated that the board was all in agreement on that point, but said that, because of a number of concerns, the road forward is still unclear.
"The way we left it," said trustee Mark Boudreau, "is, once we've got a set amount of money we can spend on it, we'll start at the biggest trouble spot... we'll start there and say, with this amount of money, how far can we get to make the best improvement we can?" The board said there was still potential funding from the state that is up in the air. The state had also indicated that there might be some materials that the village could use on the project, but highway superintendent Norm LeBlanc said that nothing ever came of that offer.
"We're committed to fixing this, and it's something we're going to jump at next year," said Patterson, although he noted that the village is also dealing with a crumbling retaining wall that could end up being a major project that could take a large portion of the highway department's reserve budget next year. "From the very beginning of the concerns that you brought here, we listened. We heard you, we believed you, we know that there's an issue. At the same time, we've been bitten by this wall," said Patterson.
"We were ready to move forward until we discovered this," said board member David Monks.
Despite the concerns, Patterson said, "We need to make a fix happen in the next construction season." Boudreau led the board in making a commitment that, before the next construction season starts in the spring, the board will at least get some numbers on how much repairing the intersection will cost. Once how much the wall project will cost in time and money is clear, he said, Whitman would be invited back to discuss possibilities regarding the intersection.
Leblanc said he was confident that the budget could handle adjusting the intersection, but said they wouldn't be able to afford changing it again if the new design wasn't to the drivers' liking. He pointed out that the aesthetic radius of the turn should be maintained, but opined that the whole thing should be moved back about three feet.
Patterson said that as soon as they were able to come to an agreement on the best way to deal with the intersection, they would get estimates from contractors on how much the project would cost. Then, if repairing the wall doesn't end up being too much of a drain on the village's budget in the spring, they would have the numbers necessary to make a decision to move forward with the intersection.
The North Bennington Village Trustees meet the first Tuesday after the first Wednesday of every month at the train station on Depot Street. Full recordings of their meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.