CONVERTING “DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION” TO “FUNCTION JUNCTION” NOW UNDEWAY IN MANCHESTER CENTER (VT), 17 YEARS AFTER COMPLETION OF A LANDMARK FIRST IN THE NATION ALL-ROUNDABOUT TOWN CENTER PLAN
--forming Vermont's first “roundabout corridor”
Vermont Public Radio this week reported the construction start of two roundabouts in the “5th Avenue in the Mountains,” Manchester Center, VT which includes converting an intersection (VT 7A/30) popularly known as “dysfunction junction” to just the opposite, “function junction.”
It took a couple of decades and perseverance but the two intersections involved ensure the far easier followup signal conversion tasks which when completed establishes a walker and bicycle friendly shopping and living environment without a single signal to mar what essentially is a pristine Vermont mountain valley featuring mostly 18th and 19th century style “our town” New England architecture.
Manchester's Planner Lee Krohn deserves an award for persistence! So too do the other leaders of Manchester over many years. Credit the Town which commissioned now renowned landscape architect Robert A. White of Norwich who guided the Manchester Center plan for walking circulation issued in 1995, the first all-roundabout town center circulation study in the U.S. (Keene, NH eight years later became the first urban city to study conversion of all its major signalized [and non-signalized] intersections to roundabouts, Missoula, MT the first metro to do the same, and "U.S. roundabout capital" Carmel, IN with a population of about 80,000 already two-thirds of the way towards being in the words of its Mayor a one-traffic signal town with 100 roundabouts).
One cannot forget former VT Senator Jim Jeffords who helped put the word "roundabout" for for the first time in federal transportation law and got funding for undergrounding of the Manchester Center project utilities. Yes, second roundabout a the “center” of the Center, the upper mini roundabout, will be the first official Vermont mini, a roundabout with a traversable central area (VT 7A/11/30).
With the completion of the two new roundabouts Manchester Center becomes home of the first Vermont “roundabout corridor” as they join the other VT 7A roundabout dating from 1997, Grand Union Roundabout about three blocks south of soon to be “function junction.” The first U.S. roundabout corridor plan belongs to the Brattleboro (VT) Putney Road.
Unfortunately the U.S. lags several developed nations in roundabout adoption even though roundies cut injuries for walkers up to 90% (same for car occupants), cut emissions and gasoline consumption by about a third at busy intersections, increase business vitality in the immediate area, and--like soon to be "function junction"--increase access to and development of nearby land, thereby enabling denser land development which by definition curbs sprawl. Vermont and other states need to join New York and Virginia Departments of Transportation by adopting “roundabouts only” policies. (Two of ten Canadian provinces already boast such policies.)
Now there remains the easiest task of all, completing the 1995 White plan by converting the few signals left along VT 11 to the US 7 interchange. Then Manchester Center can become a no-signal shopping mecca with completely comfortable and safe walking conditions!