New Park and Ride Is One of State’s Biggest

Front Page / Oct. 23, 2008 12:00am EDT

By M. D. Drysdale

New Park and Ride Is One of State’s Biggest By M. D. Drysdale

Randolph’s new $1.4-million park and ride, years in planning and construction, opened this week off Route 66 at the I-89 interchange.

The 85-car parking lot features lighting, a special bus loop, and an experimental surface that may offer a new solution to the problem of polluted runoff from parking lots and highways throughout Vermont.

The unique provision for busses is an acknowledgement of the popularity of the commuter routes offered by the Stagecoach bus service, which provides rides to the White River/Lebanon area.

"This will be a true bus facility, safe and well-lit, with a shelter and turnaround for the bus," said John Zicconi, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation (VTrans).

The bus loop is built on the lower level of the two-level park and ride, along with parking for the handicapped.

The 3.5-acre site was purchased from Gilbert Rose of Braintree.

VTrans is excited about the new parking surface, made of a porous concrete that will greatly reduce stormwater runoff.

The surface will virtually eliminate standing water on the parking lot, according to park and ride expert Wayne Davis.

"If you throw a pail of water on it, it will just go down as if into a sponge," he told The Herald a year ago, when construction was about to begin.

The surface, he said, looks slightly rough, like exposed aggregate.

Stormwater has been the subject of intense regulatory scrutiny in recent years in Vermont. Rainwater that runs from parking lots picks up pollutants, including oils and gasoline from the vehicles, and state regulatons increasingly call for such runoff to be controlled.

In the Randolph park and ride, the stormwater seeps through the surface into holding chambers below, Zicconi said. The surface is admittedly an experiment, he said, so a holding pond has been created in case the new system doesn’t work as intended.

The 85-car lot replaces a gravel lot with room for just 20 cars, and this will be one of the five biggest of the 29 park and rides in the state.

VTrans now maintains about 1100 park and ride spaces statewide, and the Randolph upgrade is part of a push to expand to 2000 spaces in 10 years.

Zicconi has no doubt that the big Randolph lot will be used to capacity. Two or three years ago, the state’s park and rides were only 40% filled; recently they’ve been 90% full, he said.

"People are finding a way to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint," he observed. "We just need to give them the tools.

"We can’t provide busses to run everywhere in a rural area. If we can help people come up with their own public transit, it’s a win-win for everyone."

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