September 22, 2006

By Lisa Loomis

Many remember the state legislative coup of the late Lixi Fortna who wrote, and saw passed, a law requiring the state to create paved bike lanes whenever state highways were paved or reconstructed.

And many have asked where aforementioned bike lanes are on the new stretches of pavement from Waitsfield to Moretown where Route 100 has been reconstructed and repaved. The answer is: The shoulders are paved and that will serve as the bike lanes for now. Since the original legislation, passed in 1986/87, subsequent legislation was passed which softened the original proclamation.

 Now the Vermont Agency of Transportation is bound by statute which calls for paving shoulders. VSA Title 19, Section 23.10 regarding pavement of highway shoulders states that it is "the policy of the state to provide paved shoulders on major state highways with the intention of providing an integrated bicycle route system."

Mark Woolavor, paving project manager for the Agency of Transportation, said that the section of Title 19 governs highway projects and he pointed out that Section B of that citation allows the AOT to exclude some sections of highway from having paved shoulders if the AOT deems it cost prohibitive.

That is not the case with the paving project on Route 100 from Waitsfield to Waterbury. Woolaver said that the shoulders on the entire section will be paved to the widest extent possible.

"There are some sections of this project where there are very narrow shoulders and some gravel shoulders. Our intent is to provide a consistent paved shoulder throughout the length of the project," Woolaver explained.

He said that while officially designated bike lanes are not part of this project, the travel lanes have been "narrowed up in an effort to get a wider shoulder."

"Dropping travel lanes to 11 feet creates a wider paved shoulder for bikes," he said.

The paved shoulders will not be painted with bike lane warning indicators but rather be separated from the travel lane by the white heavy-duty fog tape found on other state highways.

Amy Bell, bicycle and pedestrian specialist for the AOT, pointed out that lane striping is currently done as a temporary measure until a project gets close enough to completion to warrant final taping with thermoplastic tape.

"What you may be seeing is temporary painted lines. They look very different from the final product. If the thermoplastics are down, the project is not done," she said.