by Andrew Martin
Jim Donovan of Broadreach Planning & Design explains a map of one of the roads that has been selected as a possible route for the shared path that is in the works between Stowe and Morristown. Donovan and others presented the study thus far and took community input at workshop session on Thursday, January 10. Also seen standing in the photo are LCPCís Amanda Holland and Morristown Selectboard member Steve Rae, who is a member of the steering committee for the path project. Martin photo
STOWE—The early stages of the project to build a shared use path between Morristown and Stowe are continuing along as planned. On Thursday, January 10, the first of several informational meetings and workshops designed to garner public input was held at the Akeley Memorial Building in downtown Stowe beginning at 6 p.m. The meeting was attended by roughly 25 people from both towns as well as by representatives from several organizations and companies working on the project.
The first of the workshops on the project began with a brief introduction on the project and purpose of the meeting from Amanda Holland of the Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC). She explained that the study done for the project to this point has examined the feasibility of the path and will continue to do so. A steering committee made up of members from both towns has been working on the project since last January.
“The purpose of the path would be to promote non-motorized travel,” explained Holland at the meeting, “We are aiming at enhancing the connections between the two villages and creating a better link between Stowe and Morristown.”
Following Holland’s comments she introduced Jim Donovan of Broadreach Planning & Design, one of several companies working on the scoping study for the project. Along with Donovan, other officials present at the meeting included Greg Goyette and Chris Gendron from Stantec Consulting Services. Heritage Landscapes LLC and EIV Technical Services are the other two firms involved in the scoping study for the path.
In his presentation Donovan explained that thus far the scoping study has examined three major roads between Stowe and Morrisville that a path could closely follow. Those roads were Route 100, Randolph Road, and the Stagecoach Road. According to Donovan the study will begin to look at other alternative routes away from any town or state highways in the next stage of the project. Thus far the study examined a number of factors along each possible route, including topography, possible destinations along each road, land use, any hazardous waste sites or publically owned land, wetlands along the routes, and any flood plains. The study also examined the right-of-ways for the roads, any high crash locations on each road, traffic volumes, and how the proposed trail could possibly link up with other community trails in the future.
According to Donovan, state standards for bike traffic make all three roads under consideration in the study only advisable for expert cyclists at the current time and each would need a great deal of work expanding an area for bikers and pedestrians to use if the path followed those roads. According to Donovan after considering all the possibilities it has been determined that while each road presents a different set of challenges the path could follow the route of any of the three.
Following the presentation by Donovan and remarks by Stantec’s Goyette, the meeting was opened up for input and ideas about the trail from the community. One of the questions from the audience centered on the possibility of creating two paths along different routes. Another audience member asked that the study examine possible parking areas and restroom facilities that could serve the trail. Other topics brought up by the community for consideration included whether the trail would be gravel or paved, the marking of scenic viewpoints along the trail, if the trail would connect to the local schools, and if it would be acceptable for spurs off the trail to connect with local tourist destinations.
“The more things you can link with the better,” explained Donovan in response to that question, “That makes the trail much more useful.”
Another popular sentiment amongst the community members at the meeting was to have the trails located away from any major highways or town roads. Donovan confirmed that the steering committee for the project has agreed with that sentiment.
Following the public input and suggestion session Donovan laid out the time frame for the project moving forward. He explained that the different firms involved with the project will next work with the steering committee to identify as many alternative routes as possible and to then begin evaluating those routes, eliminating the unfeasible possibilities as they go. The result of this portion of the project would be a workable list of options that would then be examined much more in depth. Once this step was complete another public work session presenting the trail options would be held and community input would be taken on each option. That next work session is currently scheduled to take place on March 28. According to Holland the intervening time period could also see members of the steering committee begin to reach out to landowners along the possible routes to determine if an agreement can be reached regarding a right-of-way.
After the March work session, the steering committee and firms would continue to evaluate each trail option until a final recommendation could be made. A third work session would then be held in late May. The finalized recommendation for a location and route of the path would then likely be presented to the selectboards in Stowe and Morristown sometime in June.
“We would like to gather as much public input as possible,” stated Holland via email, “For those unable to make the public meeting, they can visit our website to review the project status and provide feedback…”
The funding for the scoping study thus far was provided by a 2011 Transportation Enhancement grant what was awarded to the LCPC by the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Information on the estimated costs of actually building the path along the possible routes will be gathered in the months to come. Possible funding sources will also be identified during that time.
Anyone wishing to learn more about the shared use path or to read more about the studies done thus far can do so by visiting the LCPC website at http://www.lcpcvt.org/. Anyone with questions or comments can direct them to Amanda Holland at LCPC by calling 888-4548 or emailing her at Amanda@lcpcvt.org.
Cover Photos From This Week!!
Twenty or so volunteers spent three hours Saturday moving the adult fiction
and nonfiction books for a final time at the new Morristown Centennial Library.
The volunteers were a tremedous help! said Librarian Mary West.