By Lizzy Hewitt, contributing reporter/editor
Construction on an underpass for the cows of Simplicity Farm on Route 100 in Waitsfield began on Tuesday. The underpass will allow the movement of the cows between the barn and the pasture without crossing the road.
Owner Doug Turner, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and adjacent property-owner William Iler reached a written agreement allowing the construction to begin. The Turners, with the support of community members, have been lobbying for an underpass for 13 years.
Morning commuters are familiar with the Turner farm cows, which cross Route 100 twice a day. "We currently stop between 50 and 60 vehicles in the minute and a half it takes to get across," said Turner. "The underpass will be a great blessing for public safety." The crossing takes between three and six workers, depending on the direction the cows are going.
Construction on a bypass will begin this week. The Agency of Transportation estimates that the underpass will be completed by July 1. In order to help manage traffic around the site, a stop light may be installed. When construction is complete, they will work on landscaping on both sides of the tunnel to make it useable for the cows.
Local legislators have been lobbying the Agency of Transportation to support the construction of the underpass for over a decade. Turner said that most movement on the project took place over the last two and a half years. Great progress was made with the help of Senator Phil Scott and former State Representative Carol Hosford, he added.
"We wish to thank the drivers in the area for the courtesy they've given us and ask for their cooperation for just a little while longer," said Turner.
He also thanked the community for their support in calling legislators and pushing to have the underpass constructed.