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U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm - News

FHWA 36-12
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Contact: Doug Hecox
Tel: 202-366-0660

Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Joins Governor Shumlin to Open Northern Leg of SR 279 near Bennington

Project Expected to Relieve Congestion, Strengthen Community's Economy

BENNINGTON, Vt. - Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau joined Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin today to open the northern leg of the long-awaited SR 279, built to relieve congestion in downtown Bennington and improve traffic flow for the region's growing commercial truck traffic.

The $72 million project, which relied on more than $58 million in federal funds, will allow freight to move through the area more easily. The new route is expected to improve Bennington's livability and to protect the historic community's quality of life.

"This project is what President Obama had in mind when he talked about an America built to last," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "The changes made here will increase safety and improve regional commerce and livability for the residents of Bennington."

Construction on the northern segment began in 2007. The three-mile-long route starts a mile east of downtown Bennington on SR 9 and connects with SR 279's western leg on U.S. 7, which opened to traffic in 2004.

The northern and western segments of SR 279 together represent a new east-west alternative route for interstate traffic between New York and Western Vermont. Project planners expect the new route will reduce travel times and increase driver and pedestrian safety in the area by cutting the number of commercial trucks and other heavy interstate traffic that for years have had no alternatives to driving through downtown Bennington. Planners also believe air quality will improve because the new route will cut down on stop-and-go traffic and reduce emissions.

"The improvements to Route 279 eliminate a major traffic chokepoint and protect the quality of life of this historic community," said Deputy Administrator Nadeau. "This project not only put people to work but created a long-term investment in Vermont and the lives of its residents."

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