November 1, 2014

Sidewalk conversation

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Planning Commission discusses Industrial Avenue’s impact on pedestrians

Oct. 20, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The Williston Planning Commission met Tuesday with members of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC), Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) and Stantec Consulting Services to discuss the possibility of building a sidewalk or multi-use path on Industrial Avenue.

Currently, a stretch of concrete sidewalk on the north side of Industrial Ave. begins at the intersection of Vermont 2A and ends just beyond Avenue D. The proposed path or sidewalk would provide connectivity from the existing walkway to Williston Rd. (U.S. 2).

Stantec is in the process of drafting a scoping report that will finalize the project purpose and needs, and develop and evaluate alternatives. The funding for the report will be split, with 80 percent coming from federal funds obtained by CCRPC and the remaining 20 percent divided between the town and CCTA — which is operates the bus stop at the corner of Industrial Ave. and Williston Rd.

“CCTA really got the ball started (on this project),” said CCRPC transportation planner Christine Forde. “Williston has been interested in this corridor for a while, but I think CCTA’s interest came when the Department of Children and Families moved into the White Cap building (located on Industrial Avenue). It highlighted a deficiency. There’s not a way for pedestrians to get from the bus stop to (White Cap Business Park).”

The question of whether to build a concrete sidewalk or an asphalt multi-use path took center stage at the meeting, with the pros and cons of each option discussed at length.

“Please, do not make it concrete. It’s more expensive and less practical,” said Commission member Kevin Batson. “(Asphalt) allows for various modes of transportation. Runners tend to avoid concrete.”

Town planner Ken Belliveau agreed that an asphalt path would benefit the town — citing the popularity of the multi-use path on Mountain View Road — but questioned whether there is enough room on Industrial Ave. for a similar project.

“There may not be enough right-of-way for a multi-use path,” Belliveau said.

He added that, in some cases, narrower traffic lanes could increase pedestrian space. But he cautioned that such a measure would increase the overall cost of the project and might not be feasible due to the road’s high amount of truck traffic.

Approximately 8,800 vehicles travel on Industrial Ave. daily.

Whether to build a path or sidewalk on just one or both sides of the road was also left open for future discussion, although the initial consensus was that a single pedestrian facility in the short term would be more practical.

The Industrial Ave.-Williston Rd. intersection is currently being reviewed by the Vermont Agency of Transportation for potential improvements. However, that plan focuses on safety and traffic flow, and is separate from the sidewalk discussion.

Belliveau stressed that the current proposal will not supplant plans to develop and improve the surrounding areas, noting that Williston Rd. is also incomplete in its sidewalk coverage.

“This (project) is not taking the place of a look at the whole functioning of the Industrial Ave. corridor,” Belliveau said. “In the long run, it’s very possible that if a sidewalk is built as a result of this, it could at some point be improved beyond whatever happens now.”

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