Living in the eye of the intersection

  • Published in News

Twenty-five car crashes since December 2014

Living in the eye of the intersection of German Flats Road and the Mount Ellen access road is not for the faint of heart.

Molly Bagnato and her husband, Todd Sirak, purchased their home on the east side of German Flats Road across from the bottom of the access road to Mount Ellen in December 2014. Since that time, there have been 25 or so car crashes as a result of vehicles shooting through the stop sign, across German Flats and into their driveway and yard, and in February a car totaled their truck as it was parked in the driveway, almost pushing the truck into the house.

Since they’ve purchased the house, they’ve been exploring the woods and have found lots of car parts around the house, evidence of crashes in years past. Their woodpile has been hit by a car as well.

“We were told that the man we bought the house from had owned it as a second home for 30 years and didn’t realize the extent of the problem,” Bagnato said.

It was Fayston resident Martha Daley at the Waitsfield Post Office who alerted her to the fact that it might be a problem. And it is.

Bagnato recently approached the Fayston Select Board about the problem, wondering what solutions there might be. At the board’s April 3 meeting, the board was receptive, offering sympathy and concurring that it’s a serious problem.

“Molly is here to talk about the countless problems they’ve had with vehicles, for various reasons, appearing in their driveway. It doesn’t appear that all are for excessive speed, but for other reasons they’re in the driveway. Molly lives in the eye of the Sugarbush North Access Road and German Flats,” said select board chair Jared Cadwell.

“When we first bought the house, we knew we were on a public road but didn’t know it was a problem. The first winter we had nine to 13 cars in our front yard. Then we had our neighbor move rocks into our yard. The next year there were five cars and then the next 11. I had a baby last summer and that’s what triggered this. That and our car was totaled at the end of February,” Bagnato told the board.

“Most of the accidents are cars in your yard as a result of coming down the Mount Ellen access road?” Cadwell asked.

“There was one that was a T-bone accident when a car came down German Flats and the Mount Ellen sign came down. It was just lucky no one has gotten hurt. But from where we’re standing, we’re skiers, we get that you’re jazzed after skiing. People are going 50 to 60 miles an hour. It’s a perfect hill to get speed on,” Bagnato said.

Select board member Chuck Martel, who invited Bagnato to speak to the board, said that VTrans is aware of the problem, as is Sugarbush, and said that Margo Wade from Sugarbush had sent a letter outlining what she and her team at the resort think might be done with signage to slow traffic and alert drivers to the impending stop sign and intersection.

“The perfect solution would be to move our driveway. If we move our driveway closer to the White Horse Inn we could create a berm. If we created a berm or rocks or trees, then drivers would hit the berm and that would absorb the accident,” Bagnato said.

The board members and road foreman Stuart Hallstrom discussed whether it made sense to put guardrails along the edge of the Bagnato-Sirak parcel but considered that that would make a serious T-bone collision threat if they did.

They encouraged Bagnato to file an application for a permit to move the driveway and expressed a desire to help with fill in that case.

“We’d welcome that,” Cadwell said.

The board will continue to explore signage and traffic-calming measures and signage with Sugarbush as well.