BY JASON STARR
Engineers consulting with the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission presented the Williston Selectboard last week with their plan to complete a bicycle and pedestrian connection between Taft Corners and Five Corners in Essex Junction.
The board will decide at its meeting Tuesday whether to endorse the concept, an essential step in priming the project for state and federal funding.
“This is a big connection,” said Williston Assistant Public Works Director Lisa Schaeffler. “We need to do something here because everyone contacts me nonstop asking ‘when are you going to connect it?’”
Bikers and walkers travelling alongside Route 2A toward Essex are currently challenged by a gap in the sidewalk/rec path system that starts at the Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU). From there, people are forced onto the shoulder of heavily trafficked Route 2A for about a quarter-mile until picking up a 10-foot-wide rec path at Beaudry Lane. The path crosses Allen Brook with a bridge the town built in 2016.
To close the gap, planners recommend construction of a path alongside Beaudry Lane, then continuing alongside Route 2A until connecting to the Taft Corners sidewalk system that starts in front of VSECU.
“If we do this, we’ll no longer have a bridge to nowhere,” selectboard member Terry Macaig said.
The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission held two public comment meetings over the winter about the project, with several Williston residents speaking to the benefits of completing the connection.
The new path would cross seven private driveways on Beaudry Lane and Route 2A. The town would need to obtain temporary construction easements for work on private property.
According to Town Manager Erik Wells, the town has already secured grant funding from the Vermont Agency of Transportation for the Route 2A section of the path. The selectboard endorsement expected to come Tuesday will bolster the town’s pursuit of grant funds for the Beaudry Lane section.