Rutland moves forward with railyard project

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(Host) A $100 million railyard relocation project that’s been proposed for Rutland City and Rutland Town got a boost from the voters. Rutland City approved a redevelopment plan that includes the project by a nearly two to one margin.

But as VPR’s Nina Keck reports, the vote in Rutland Town was much closer.

(Keck) Proponents of the railyard relocation project say moving Rutland’s busy switching yard out of the city and into a larger parcel of land in Rutland Town would provide huge economic benefits for the region. But many in Rutland Town have expressed concerns over the environmental impact of the project.

Despite those concerns, Rutland Town voters said yes – by a slim 29-vote margin – to continuing discussions on the project.

(Matthew Sternberg) “This vote was important because it helped get the community focused on what the real issues were for them.”

(Keck) Mathew Sternberg is head of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority. He says a draft environmental statement of the project will be published this spring or early summer and he says it will address many of the concerns expressed. In addition, he says, engineers and researchers involved in the project will be on hand at public meetings to answer questions. Rutland Town Select Board Chairman Stan Rhodes says that’s going to be vital.

(Rhodes) “We need to get all the answers so everybody’s comfortable. Everybody really needs to be informed and if they don’t come to the meetings and get the information and get their questions answered, there’s nobody else to blame.”

(Keck) Rhodes and Sternberg say what’s really exciting about the project is that it’s a major collaboration between the town and the city, two communities that have frequently had strained relations.

(Rhodes) “We’re either going to go do this together and move forward or we’re all going to go down the tubes together. And we need the city and the city needs the town. We need to work together.”

(Keck) Rhodes says the two select boards will be meeting soon to set a course for action.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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