Rutland Herald (June 13, 1999)

By Rachel E. Klein

Herald Staff

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

attention first.

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

about jobs."

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.