Community Liaison Corner

Who Makes the Decision?

March 4, 2024

In our last blog post, we asked a simple question.  What’s next?

After the deep dive of the PEL Study public survey.  After the well-attended land use workshops.  After all the public input that’s come our way formally and informally.  What happens next?

As we discussed in that post, what’s next is a detailed, months-long evaluation of the five remaining routes under study.

Out of this evaluation phase will come a recommendation from the PEL Study team later this year.

Balancing impacts with benefits, the team’s goal is to recommend one or more routes to advance for further study by the Vermont Agency of Transportation.  The team may also conclude that none of these routes be built.

The team’s recommendation will then be presented to the PEL Study’s Technical Committee and Policy Committee members for a vote.

In this blog post, then, we’ll pose and answer a second question:  Who makes the decision?  Let’s get underway by taking a look at these two committees whose input will be central to how the Agency of Transportation decides to address the challenges of truck traffic and truck safety in downtown Vergennes.

The Technical Committee

Like the Policy Committee, which we discuss below, the Technical Committee was formed at the outset of the PEL Study.

The Technical Committee is responsible for:

  • Reviewing and validating the process by which the PEL Study team transportation engineers and planners collect and analyze field data used to develop the conceptual roadway designs; and
  • Weighing in on the PEL Study team’s findings and recommendations.

At key milestones during the past three years, the Technical Committee has been asked to vote on moving things forward.  Most recently, in December, the Technical Committee unanimously approved moving the five conceptual designs for the Blue, Pink, Orange, Green, and Purple routes into the evaluation phase that we discussed above.

The 11 voting members of the Technical Committee include transportation planning, environmental, land use planning, and roadway design and maintenance specialists from state and regional organizations.  This includes staff from the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the Addison County Regional Planning Commission as well as public works and planning officials from Vergennes and Ferrisburgh.

The Policy Committee

Representing local and regional perspectives is the Policy Committee.  This group is asked to review and endorse the study findings at certain milestones and, most importantly, at the final recommendation.

While the Technical Committee focuses on the technical aspects of roadway design, the Policy Committee evaluates the routes being studied through the lens of stakeholder input and public feedback captured in public meetings, the recently completed public survey and land use workshops, and interaction with one another and each member’s constituency.

The 20 members of the Policy Committee include one representative from each of the seven communities engaged in the PEL Study as well as individuals representing state and regional economic, environmental, trucking, and other interests.  Three Addison County legislators serve on the Policy Committee.

In January, the Policy Committee followed the Technical Committee in unanimously voting to move the five conceptual designs into the evaluation phase.  Both committees will soon be asked to review and agree on the set of criteria that will be used during this phase to evaluate the pros and cons of the five conceptual designs.

You can see a list of who is on each of the two committees as well as a host of other material relating to the work of the two committees by scrolling to each committee section here:  Committees & Agency Coordination | Vergennes PEL Study.

The Final Decision

In the end, the Vermont Agency of Transportation will make a final decision on next steps based on funding availability and other considerations.  But the work of the Technical and Policy committees—in particular, their ability to arrive at a consensus on the way forward—will be a critical final step of the PEL Study.

As always, don’t hesitate to get in touch with questions or concerns at

Jim Gish

PEL Study Community Liaison