September 21, 2014

Town plans for bike, pedestrian upgrades to Industrial Ave.

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By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

As the state looks to improve the intersections on either end of Industrial Avenue, the town turned its attention to planning for the future of the road itself.

On Monday, the Selectboard unanimously approved a plan for the Industrial Avenue corridor, based on the recommendation of Stantec Consulting Services Inc.—a consulting firm hired by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission at the town’s request to conduct a planning study of the corridor—and the Planning Commission.

The corridor study, which began almost a year ago, aimed to help the town understand how well the road functions, given changing land use in the area. The study looked at how Industrial Avenue might develop in the future, and how the town might prepare for some of the changes.

At its previous meeting on Feb. 11, the board heard from Stantec Senior Project Manager Rick Bryant and CCRPC representative Christine Forde.

“The recommendations that have been made are really just for future implementation, not for immediate change,” Forde said.

Bryant said that with a formal plan in place for Industrial Avenue, the town could work with developers to get transportation improvements installed as part of development projects.

“Development has been happening along Industrial Avenue and there’s been an opportunity (for town benefits) from the development projects that have come forward, but without a plan, when those opportunities arose, no one knew what to ask for, and those opportunities slipped by,” Bryant said.

Currently, Industrial Avenue has one sidewalk on its northern side, beginning at Route 2A and ending at a crosswalk at Rossignol Park.

“There is no bike accommodation right now,” Bryant said. “You can get through there on a bicycle, but there’s not a designated spot for you.”

The study looked at three alternatives to improve Industrial Avenue.

The first included bike lanes and a sidewalk on one side of the street. The second option included bike lanes, sidewalks on both sides and additional traffic lights. The third strategy included bike lanes, sidewalks, signals and turn lanes.

Stantec proposed a hybrid alternative—bike lanes along the entire street, and sidewalks on both sides beginning at Route 2 and ending at Rossignol Park, where a sidewalk on the northern side would connect with the existing sidewalk.

Planning Director Ken Belliveau said the Planning Commission supported the hybrid strategy, recognizing that the town wouldn’t get much benefit from a continual turn lane or added signals.

Bryant said options are limited because the town has only a 50-foot right of way for Industrial Avenue, compared to the standard 64 feet. Adding a couple extra feet of right of way would, in some cases, mean that residents couldn’t park a second car in their driveways.

He added that pedestrian, bike and transit facilities would eventually help with traffic calming.

“When people start to see people crossing the road and riding the bus, they will begin to slow down,” Bryant said.

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