Ed Colodny, long-time member of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra board was recently named honorary chair of the VSO Endowment Campaign. In January, the VSO governing board announced that it has launched a major campaign to raise $3.5 million, and that it had already raised $2.6 million toward that goal. The VSO is so vital to the cultural–and economic–well-being of Vermont, Colodny says. Can you imagine the void if the VSO were not here? I am honored to serve as honorary chair of this effort, and ask all who benefit from the VSO to join in this important campaign.Colodny, a Burlington native, served the Burlington community as interim president and chief executive officer of the Fletcher Allen Health Care, and prior to that, as interim president and chief executive officer of the University of Vermont. He was president and chief executive officer of US Airways before becoming chair of the board of Comsat Corp, leader in global satellite and digital networking services. Colodny has served on numerous boards around the country. Ed Colodny loves this music and believes in this orchestra, says VSO board chair. Ken Squier. We could not have a better leader for this endowment effort. To have someone who has meant so much to all the state in this role is so meaningful and truly an honor for us all.The VSO has brought music to all corners of Vermont for 75 years. It was founded in the fall of 1934, when Vermont s scattered musical forces, including musicians, farmers, bankers, plumbers, and teachers, joined together to become the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. The organization became the first state-supported orchestra in 1939, and over the years as other state orchestras performed from music halls, the VSO continued to bring music to historic and beautiful outdoor locations around the state. Today, under the leadership of Jaime Laredo, the orchestra has become a great professional orchestra.During the 2007/2008 season the Orchestra reached an audience of 61,358 in 161 communities, including 28,198 school children through its popular SymphonyKids outreach program in Vermont schools. Overall the Orchestra produced 339 performances and events statewide 296 of the events were offered free of charge to the audience.For additional information about the VSO Endowment Campaign, please contact the VSO at 2 Church Street, Suite 3B, Burlington, Vermont 05401 or call 800-876-9293, ext. 25. For information about forthcoming concerts, please visit VSO website at www.vso.org(link is external).
By David Dill. Now that we are about halfway through the summer construction season, many Vermonters have become aware that the Agency of Transportation is replacing all the road signs along Vermont’s interstate system. This work has prompted many questions, the most common is why?Understandably, many motorists believe that our old highway signs are just fine and that the money we are using to replace these highway signs could be better spent repairing bridges, expanding public transit and paving roads. I too would prefer to put every available dollar into these kinds of high-priority programs, but we do have to address our other responsibilities as well.The bottom line is that from an engineering and safety perspective, those old signs are not OK and the state must replace them. Here is why.Congress recently directed the Federal Highway Administration to adopt a national standard for retro-reflectivity for traffic signs and pavement markings. These new standards, which were established in 2008, apply to all roads open to public travel. Compliance with these new retro-reflectivity rules is a requirement that VTrans must meet by 2015 to continue to receive the critical federal-aid highway funds that come to Vermont.Federal-aid highway funds make up $250 million of the state’s $595 million transportation budget, and are used in all facets of the state’s highway, bridge and public transportation programs.The goal of this new reflectivity mandate is to provide signs that are legible during all times of day and weather conditions. This is largely accomplished through the retro-reflectivity of the sign sheeting. The expected life of this sheeting is approximately 15 years. Many of the signs on our interstate system are at least 20 years old, and some that were recently replaced on northern portions of I-91 were the original signs from way back in the 1960s and 70s.The posts and foundations for these signs are also being replaced. All new signposts are designed to be “breakaway” if struck by a vehicle. This modern technology is a valuable safety tool that will prevent injury and save lives. On the financial front, these sign projects do not tap funds that could otherwise be used for bridge, public transit or pavement projects, so they are not in conflict with those programs. Instead, the new signs are 100 percent federally funded with money called “Section 148 Highway Safety Improvement Program” funds, which can only be spent on safety-related projects.Sign improvements are one of several allowable project categories under Section 148. The federal government identified sign retro-reflectivity as an important safety feature, which led to the Highway Administration’s adoption of the mandate requiring states to upgrade their existing signs. As a result, VTrans, over the next few years, will replace all traffic control signs on a system-wide basis, prioritized by sign age, which is why the northern section of I-91 was completed first, followed by the current I-89 projects. The rest of the interstate system will follow so that we complete the work by the federally mandated 2015 deadline.David Dill is the Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation8.4.2010