By Kara Herlihy

The Vermont Transportation Board designated the official route for a byway extension for Routes 100 and 17 through all Valley towns.

The designation follows months of planning and a request made to the Warren Select Board for their support by Steve Gladczuk of Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission and Linda Lloyd of the Mad River Valley Planning District.

Local residents have worked with Gladczuk, Lloyd and consultant David Raphael to create a corridor management plan for the byway, which would extend from Route 100's intersection with Route 100B south through Granville Gulf Reservation, as well as up Route 17. The plan inventories the routes' "intrinsic resources" and lays out several goals for the project.

The goals include the preservation of the area's rural character and resources, the development of recreation opportunities, the development of multi-modal transportation opportunities and the promotion of the region through "integrated" marketing.

The plans could include signs, kiosks and information brochures, Gladczuk told the Warren Select Board on August 14.

Warren was the last town to join the effort, with Waitsfield, Fayston, Moretown and Granville already on board with the byway. Warren unanimously approved the byway project and pointed out how the designation ties in with an initiative to improve and extend the Mad River Path.

"It mostly gives us access to funding," said select board chair Mac Rood last August.  Funding may be available to make path improvements -- including new trailhead signs and bridges -- and to secure easements to extend the path. Byway designation incorporates note not only motorized travel but also alternate means of travel.

At a public hearing in July, Buel's Gore officials expressed some concerns over the byway proposal. Garret Mott, supervisor of the unincorporated town, suggested that traffic safety on Route 17 should be taken into consideration, and asked that officials pursue signs to warn motorists of the dangers of the winding mountain road. He also noted that his goal was not to derail the project but to bring the concerns of Buel's Gore residents forward.

Prior to the byway's designation, each town select board had to sign off, then the proposal passed to the Vermont Scenery Preservation council for a public hearing, then onto the Vermont Transportation Board for the official route designation.

Duxbury, Waterbury and Stowe are also considering a bid for byway designation on Route 100, according to published reports.

Byway designation must be renewed every five years.