GOVERNOR RETHINKS POLICY On BYPASSES
Rutland Herald (June 13, 1999)
By Rachel E. Klein
Governor Howard Dean said Friday he was
considering a major policy shift on bypasses in the
wake of OMYA Inc. receiving a go-ahead to increase its
marble-hauling truck traffic on Route 7.
Innkeepers in Brandon have long argued that more
trucks on the road would further harm the downtown,
but the state's District 9 Environmental Commission
recently gave OMYA an Act 250 permit to double its
daily round trips from its marble quarry in Middlebury
to its processing plant in Florence.
In a meeting Friday with the Rutland Herald's
editorial board, Dean said he was considering bypasses
to save downtowns along Route 7, but has not yet
firmly decided on the issue.
The state Agency of Transportation has considered
bypasses around some of Route 7's traffic bottlenecks,
including Bennington, Wallingford and Brandon. The
governor has strongly opposed this possibility in the
"We're coming down to a very difficult decision
about transportation policy," he said Friday.
Dean also discussed plans for improvements to
Route 7, a project that he said was at the top of his
list. Plans for synchronizing the traffic lights on
Route 7 in Rutland are already under way. The
governor is also looking to improve the road from East
Dorset to Wallingford.
While residents living from Brandon to Middlebury
have also been clamoring for improvements to the road,
which is essentially a two-lane highway, a section
from East Dorset to Wallingford was chosen to get
The governor said securing rights-of-way along
the northern stretches has been more difficult, one of
the reasons the southern portion was given priority.
"This project is essential to the beginning of
the improvements of Route 7," Dean said. ". ... You
have to do the project eventually to make it a better
He said he's not sure why the people who have
supported the southwestern improvements in the past
have not spoken in favor of it recently.
Dean said the southwestern part of the state has
long battled a lack of jobs. He said making the
improvements to Route 7 south of Rutland would provide
the area with the incentive to create them.
"My pitch here is that the community has to
decide if they want jobs or they don't," Dean said.
"... If the community says they don't want the
infrastructure improvements, then they can't complain
He added: "The longest journey begins with a
single step, and if you don't start a single project,
you're not going to get it done."
He said improving Route 7 would not take federal
transportation dollars away from other projects.