Since last fall, the Mad River Valley Planning District has been assessing how, why and where people are moving around in The Valley. The planning district hired the Burlington-based SE Group — consultants who design community spaces, landscape architecture and resort areas — to consider how The Valley’s transportation system might be improved and expanded.

On February 11, at Waitsfield United Church, members of the company presented a few of their findings and asked the community for feedback on the MRV Moves Active Transportation Plan — still in its early stages.

Executive director of the MRV Planning District Joshua Schwartz talked about the “interface between recreation and transportation.” The district hopes to create an improved system especially for those who would like to explore nonmotorized transport that is safer, available throughout the year and provides connections between Valley towns. They have asked where trails, bike lanes and sidewalks might be needed or wanted by those traversing The Valley.

The district, in collaboration with the consultant group, also considers how they can mitigate any negative effects of development on The Valley’s natural environment and associate planner Drew Pollak-Bruce of the SE Group said that the plan will incorporate the watershed, flood plain and wildlife habitat concerns.

The planning district is also interested in how transportation could incorporate more tourism and, therefore, economic success.

Early in the planning process, the district distributed a public survey and received about 350 responses — 87 percent from local residents, 10 percent from second-home owners and 3 percent from visitors. Pollak-Bruce said that these visitors spend an average of $175 per day, while second-home owners spend about $100 per day and permanent residents spent less than $10 per day.

When those surveyed were asked what transportation projects they would like to see constructed in The Valley, they chose an off-road path along Route 100, new walking and biking infrastructure and more trail tourism, said Pollak-Bruce.

In April, the community can attend a summit where a more developed plan will be presented and this plan will reach its final version by May. On July 21, a presentation of the finalized plan will be presented to the public.

“There is a really unique culture here,” said Pollak-Bruce, where “people are very active.” The planning district and the consultant group will continue working toward strengthening The Valley’s transportation network so that residents can stay active while looking for opportunities to generate revenue.

The transportation plan is funded by the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s (VTrans) Strong Communities, Better Connections Program, Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the towns of Fayston, Moretown, Warren and Waitsfield.

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