The good citizens and leaders of Waitsfield are to be commended for trying to make the best final decisions about the Bridge Street and covered bridge reconstruction project as can be made.
The hurry up and get it done nature of the project, coupled with the bridge being closed, the abutment work being more extensive than imagined, ledge, rain, etc. left everyone anxious about getting this project behind us.
Thankfully, the time was taken to approach the sidewalk borders thoughtfully; ditto for the streetlights and benches. The town has worked very hard to react nimbly to the much more nimble citizen volunteers who made that happen.
The same is true for the issue of the covered bridge roof. Rather than go with the projected cedar shake roof on the bridge and pedestrian walkway, the town decided to work through its options in terms of materials, costs and grants this winter.
And then came the issue of the utility poles. Recall that in 2012 and 2013 the issue of underground power lines on Bridge Street was the topic of much discussion at Town Meeting. One year voters approved spending $50,000 to install the conduit but not pull the wires – which was thought at the time to cost another $75,000. The next year voters were told that installing the conduit and pulling the lines would be closer to $400,000. A motion was made to spend that money to do that, but it failed.
Fast forward to this year: Bridge Street is torn up, sidewalks, street, surrounding area. The opportunity to install the conduit and lines for the streetlamps was seized. Most of the lines on the utility pole closest to the northeastern end of the bridge were moved to a temporary pole further north, on the lawn of the Madsonian. The northern abutment and sidewalk were completed and people noticed that the original power pole (where the telephone lines remained) seemed to be crowding the sidewalk and abutment and asked the town and utilities to consider keeping the temporary pole rather than returning to the original pole.
There is/was willingness on all sides and the board agreed to explore options until this spring with the understanding that Green Mountain Power may need to install poles to support the lines on the temporary poles.
And those lines “move the ugly from over there to over here,” to paraphrase one resident. But physics is physics; the angle of a pole and its wires dictate how it must be supported. File this one under “someone’s ox is likely to be gored.” But at least the townspeople have plenty of time to contemplate the least onerous ox.