Grant sets stage for linking bike paths

July 28, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff
Contractors from S.D. Ireland work on a section of multi-use path between River Cove Rd. and James Brown Dr. in Williston. Final funding is now in place to link existing sections of the path, creating a continuous route from Industrial Ave. to Overlook Park near the Essex Junction village line. (Observer photo by Adam White)

The final piece of funding is in place to connect a series of multi-use path segments along Vermont 2A in Williston.

The town has accepted a bid of $163,621 from S.D. Ireland to construct the middle section of the path, between Tire Kingdom and James Brown Dr., which will link segments to its north and south and complete a continuous stretch between Industrial Ave. and Overlook Park.

A final construction stage will consist of paving all of the new sections contiguously, which will increase the efficiency of the project and help builders complete it on time.

“This has been in the works for quite some time, but now they’re moving right along on it,” said Lisa Sheltra, engineering technician for the town of Williston and municipal project manager for the bike path. “It has to be completed by Oct. 14, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to finish before that, at the pace they’re going.”

Public Works director Bruce Hoar echoed Sheltra’s optimism in statements to the Selectboard on Monday.

“They’ve had no major (problems),” Hoar said. “They’ve had a few minor issues, but nothing major.”

The first and third sections of the path were bid together, also by S.D. Ireland, after the town received a combined $445,550 in federal and state funding. The overall project will be completed using a combination of funding from the transportation, community and systems preservation program and an enhancement grant, according to Sheltra.

The 10-foot-wide, asphalt path was previously completed from Industrial Ave. to River Cove Rd. S.D. Ireland’s crew is nearing completion of pre-paving work on the portion from River Cove Rd. to James Brown Dr., and has already finished similar work on the final section from Tire Kingdom to Overlook Park.

Selectboard chairman Terry Macaig said that the completed path will address safety concerns from area residents about that stretch of 2A.

“There is pretty much heavy traffic all day long on that stretch of Route 2A,” Macaig said. “For people biking to Essex in particular, there is not a lot of (shoulder) on that side of the road to protect them from car traffic. This will hopefully alleviate that problem, and make it a lot safer.”

Sheltra said the project will also entail some additional drainage work and a retaining wall, as well as some handrails. She said that Staff Sterling Management of Morrisville is providing state-required, on-site inspection of the process.

“They are there 24/7, making sure that (contractors) are doing everything according to design and state standards.”

The protection of pedestrians and bicyclists is a priority expressly identified within Williston’s proposed 2011 Comprehensive Plan. Section 6.2.7 of the plan states, “Access for pedestrians and bicyclists will be separated from access for vehicles where possible.”

Macaig said that the availability of outside funding for the project has been a significant contributing factor to its success.

“This is a good piece of work, in that we’ve received a lot of grant money that didn’t have to come out of the town coffers,” Macaig said.

Macaig also said that more multi-use path improvements are on the town’s radar for the future, including a portion between Industrial Ave. and Taft Corners, to the south of the current project.

“There is a large section missing in the middle, that will require a large, expensive bridge over the Allen Brook,” Macaig said. “We’ve made it a priority to complete these paths, so people can travel safely on them.”