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What We’ll Learn from Conceptual Engineering

November 7, 2023

If you’ve been following the progress of our PEL Study during the course of 2023, then you’re probably familiar with a set of maps that illustrates the routes for each of the five proposed roadways being studied by the PEL team.

Each route was assigned a color, and so we have the Blue and Pink routes diverting truck traffic to the west and north of downtown, the Green Route to the south and east of downtown, the Orange Route directly north of downtown, and the Purple Route splitting north- and southbound truck traffic between Route 17 and Main Street Vergennes, respectively.

If you’d like a refresher, you can view each of these route maps on the PEL Study website here.

From Lines on a Map to Digitally Constructed 3D Roadways

Useful in indicating the general direction of each proposed truck route, these colored route maps leave many questions unanswered.

How would the Blue Route, for example, intersect with Panton Road and impact the nearby Collins Aerospace facility?  What would the Pink Route’s bridge over Otter Creek look like when viewed from Panton?  How would the Green Route impact the Church Street neighborhood in Ferrisburgh and safely merge with Route 7?

Answers to these and other challenging questions will soon be forthcoming as the PEL Study engineers work on constructing 3D representations of each roadway in a process known as Conceptual Engineering.

What Conceptual Engineering Accomplishes

The goal of Conceptual Engineering is to do enough engineering of the proposed roadways to know a) that what’s being proposed is feasible from an engineering perspective, b) that it can meet federal and state standards, and c) what each route’s approximate footprint would be on the landscape.

Conceptual Engineering will whittle down what in the route maps is a 1,000- to 1,500-foot-wide swath to the approximate physical footprint of a 40-foot-wide roadway.

Locating each proposed roadway this specifically in its topography allows the engineers to determine the best route within the wide swath of each route map, the route that offers the fewest impacts and greatest benefits.

At this level of detail, each roadway will now clearly show its environmental and property impacts and how it would interact with adjoining infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and abutting land uses.

All that said, these conceptual designs are just initial drafts, not the final design.  We expect these designs will change in the coming months and years based on further investigation, analysis, and further input from stakeholders and the public.

Your Opportunity to View the 3D Visualizations

I’ve seen an early 3D simulation of the potential routes.  They allow you, the viewer, to actually watch the route being driven through the surrounding landscape.  You’ll have an opportunity to view these 3D visualizations yourself on the project website in December.  We will email when they are available!

In December and January, we will be holding workshops focusing on future land use around the potential routes—more details on that in my next blog post.   Look for the meeting announcements in the next few weeks coming your way via email, the PEL Study website, and the U.S. mail.

In the meantime, as always, if you have questions about our PEL Study, I’d like to hear from you!  You can reach me on email jgish@vhb.com or give me a call at 802 989-0608.

All the best,

Jim Gish, Community Liaison