The Town of St. Johnsbury will be testing potential safety improvements at the intersections of Eastern Avenue and Main Streets on May 11 – 15. This temporary “pop-up” demonstration project was the result of a plan prepared in partnership with the town, Local Motion, and the Caledonia and s. Essex Fit and Healthy Coalition.

This intersection is an oversized intersection with extremely long crosswalks and threats from multiple directions for people trying to cross the street. It was identified as a great candidate for a low-cost “pop-up” temporary demonstration of strategies for improving crosswalk safety as well as clarifying traffic patterns.

“We will temporarily be placing barriers at the corners of the intersection to create bump outs that reduce the length of the crosswalks,” said Chad Whitehead, St. Johnsbury Town Manager. “We hope reducing the length of the crosswalks will make it safer for pedestrians to cross those streets. It also appears that reconfiguring the intersection may be beneficial to vehicle movements, especially for out of town travelers who may not know the unwritten rules of how to navigate through this intersection.”

The design for the pop-up consists of “bumping out” the curblines using cones or hay bales, which would make vehicle paths more consistent as well as dramatically shorten crossing distances for people on foot.

“These are very busy intersections, especially during the week when schools are in session and many people who work downtown are walking across those intersections,” said Lew Apgar, Chairperson of the Local Motion Steering Committee who recommended the temporary bump out.

“St. Johnsbury is well-positioned to become a walking and biking destination,” added Whitehead. “The more we can do to make St. Johnsbury a safe place for walkers and bikers the better for the town.”

Biking and walking have significant benefits to offer Vermont communities like St. Johnsbury. The more varied forms – walkers, bikers, motor vehicles – of transportation sharing the road, the safer it is for everyone. Making it safer and more pleasant to walk and shop in Vermont village centers and downtowns leads to a stronger local economy.

Apgar said “Walking and biking improve community health by fighting climbing obesity rates and providing lifelong opportunities for physical fitness and mobility. Getting outside also supports mental health.”

The town will be looking for feedback on the effectiveness of the bump outs. Feedback surveys will be available at the Fairbanks Museum, Athenaeum, Welcome Center, Eastern and Main Deli, and at the Bike Safety Fair on May 13 at the Summer Street Park or the public can find a link to the feedback survey at www.stjvt.com.

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