There is a major reason why we cannot close the Ethan Allen, because it is part of a major corridor project for the Rutland Region and Western Vermont.
The strategic funding plan for the Western Transportation Corridor Project included improvements to US RT 7 and rail improvements on western lines, from St. Albans to Bennington, ending in Rensselaer NY. The improvements are broken into small projects but are part of the whole plan to improve the transportation network in Southwestern VT. The Ethan Allen will be a stepping stone to the Albany, Bennington, Rutland, Burlington, Essex (ABRBE) Regional Passenger and Freight System to serve Vermonters in state, Tourism business travelers and the Southwestern Vt Economy (JOBS). This system is going to be a seamless service to connect to the southern and western section of US freight and passenger service. This would be the final stage. To stop at stage 1 of the plan, the Ethan Allen, would cut future federal funding and private investment to this Corridor Project. This Rail project has been key to getting major federal funding for track improvements and highway improvement funds. (Senator Jefford’s Legacy Bill $30 million rail improvement)
This was the deal to abandon the Rutland Bypass Project during the 1980's (proposed $175,000 Million project). The State and the Rutland Region agreed to improve existing corridor projects (rail and RT 7) are a major part of this agreement. Therefore, why are we not funding the largest transportation plan in the state. During the 1950’s when Interstate 91 and 89 were built, Southwestern Vermont had been promised that western Vermont was next for improvements. We cannot pull one small piece of corridor infrastructure that’s supporting the economic or transportation network in southwestern Vermont without hurting the whole structure.
We are not asking for a new highway, interstate or rail projects, we are just asking to improve what we have in place today. This has been the Agency of Transportation's policies for five years. So, when are we going to finally say that it is time to keep our promises and complete and preserve these western corridor improvement projects.
The Ethan Allen is part of this promise.