Selectboard passes on Mountain View bike path plan

Board approves plan to widen road for biker and pedestrian safety

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

November 21st, 2013

Mountain View Road residents are breathing somewhat easier since Monday night.

With some half-dozen looking on in the Williston Town Hall meeting room, the Selectboard put a kibosh to a proposed multi-use path on Mountain View while supporting a four-foot widening of the road from Vt. Route 2A to North Williston Road for safer use by bikers and joggers. The widening would allow for four-foot shoulders on each side of the road, and would cost approximately $3.1 million.

The vote was 4 to 1, with Selectman Jeff Fehrs voting against the motion.

“I have mixed feelings,” said Fehrs. “The path would better accommodate other users, such as joggers, along with bikers.

The contingent from the neighborhood appeared pleased.

“I feel good,” said David Marcotte minutes after the board’s vote.

The proposal is quite probably many, many moons from much further action. As part of a county-wide transportation plan intended to provide alternatives to the canceled Circumferential Highway, there may be years before a legislative review.

“This is a long-term process,” said Terry Macaig, board chairman. “The legislature is not about to agree to a $60 million construction project in the next couple of years.”

During the Mountain View discussion, Marcotte told the board that his neighbors, while not in favor of the shared use path, are “okay with the road widening.”

He said path construction could take “from one-third to one-half,” of some residents’ lawns. He also warned of the expense of moving telephone poles.

The thought of acquiring residents’ land for path construction did not sit well with some board members.

“I hate to take taxpayers’ property,” Selectboard member Jay Michaud said. “That’s my bottom line.”

“It has been important for us to hear from you,” Selectboard member Debbie Ingram told the Mountain View Road folks, adding that she does not want to take more land. “We want to encourage biking. We can do it with road widening.”

Selectboard member Christopher Roy made the motion to accept the proposal to widen the road but not build the shared-use path.

In other business, the board:

Agreed to use a $55,750 grant for repairs and ditch improvements at Martel Lane.

Accepted a private sewer line on Industrial Avenue as a public line that connects at Route 2.

Approved the concept of a Link Express commuter bus service to connect Williston with Waterbury and Montpelier. Reviewed two weeks ago, the proposal drew unanimous board support with the provision that local funding is to be determined.

“This is to allow the process to go forward and not bind us to funding at this point,” said Fehrs.

He noted that Essex has similar concerns.

The service, when up and running, would be connected with a new Williston park and ride facility.

With little discussion, the board also approved concepts for future sidewalk construction on the south side of Harvest Lane, a new shared-use path on Vt. Route 2A south of U.S. Route 2 on the west side of the road with a sidewalk on the east side, plus a shared-use path on Route 2A between Knight Lane and O’Brien Court.