Local concern over whether the bike lanes on Route 100 from Waitsfield to Warren will be three or four feet wide has prompted Waitsfield officials to schedule time with VTrans officials at a public meeting next week.
The Mad River Valley Planning District will host Waitsfield officials, VTrans officials and others concerned over the repaving project on January 19 at 7 p.m. in the Waitsfield School Library.
The state’s plans to repave Route 100 from Waitsfield to Warren are several years behind and that section of Route 100 is crumbling. Road work and flooding due to Irene worsened the condition of the road.
In 2009, during the planning phases for the project, Waitsfield officials and other local cyclist advocates met with VTrans planners and advocated for five-foot bike lanes to be included in the project. After several public meetings, town and state officials and VTrans reps agreed on uniform four-foot bike shoulders where possible.
Waitsfield and Warren received VTrans final plans for the repaving project late last fall and were asked to comment. The plans now show a three-foot shoulder on Route 100 between Waitsfield and Warren.
“When we met with you and others on November 13, 2009, and drove the length of the project, we were assured that a four-foot shoulder was possible with some exceptions,” wrote Waitsfield Town Administrator Valerie Capels in a letter from the town to to VTrans engineer Mike Fowler last month.
In an email to Fowler that same day, Capels wrote:
“While we want to better understand the basis of the three foot +/- shoulder width, we are also hopeful opportunity exists to re-evaluate opportunities that may exist to provide for a wider shoulder where possible without causing delays to the project. Let’s be in touch next week to see what date works best in early- to mid-January to review the design.”
Via email, Fowler replied on December 9, 2011:
. . .As you probably know, with a paving project we are constrained to stay within the existing ROW and are forced to avoid any environmental impacts. With that said, as proposed in the preliminary plans a consistent typical width was determined based on what the majority of the project length would accommodate. Admittedly, there are areas where a four-foot shoulder can be accommodated but it is generally accepted that variable widths are considered to be less than ideal for a corridor such as the VT 100 project between Warren and Waitsfield. Some of that philosophy is centered on the fact that user expectations are better accommodated on a facility where width is not varying. In other words, providing a consistent width within a project such as this is considered a best practice from a design perspective.”
Steve Gladczuk, who is the senior transportation planner for the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission (CVRPC), also weighed in on the proposed three-foot lanes. In a letter to Fowler he said that after the 2009 meetings he was told that the section would be repaved with the same width shoulders that currently exist, with a few spot exemptions.
“My data indicates there is an existing four-foot shoulder from Vermont 17 in Irasville south to about three-quarters of a mile north of Warren Village. From that point south to Warren Village the existing shoulder is three and one-half feet. South of Warren Village the existing shoulder is three feet and two and one-half feet to the Granville town line.
“Nobody wants the project delayed, but would you consider designing a four-foot shoulder from Irasville to Warren Village? The CVRPC Transportation Plan recommends a minimum 15 foot combined single travel lane and shoulder width. Bicycle use is very high on VT 100, and I think it is important to maintain the cross-section we have now,” Gladczuk wrote.