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Editorial: Giving up on 'best' solution?

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Posted on April 13, 2017 |
By Angelo S. Lynn



When is it too late to sound the alarm? That question comes to mind with Middlebury resident Ben Wilson’s community forum concerning the rail bridges project in downtown Middlebury. He advocates scrapping the state’s $52 million plan, painstakingly assembled over the past three years, in favor of an easterly rail bypass.

He makes a compelling argument, as have others who have railed against the current plan, that moving the rail out of the downtown would be in the best long-term interests of the town — and of the railway. When you look at it through a 100-year prism, it all makes sense. His opinion is a good read and important to consider.

And when you add the benefits of a connecting bike path to East Middlebury via what would be the abandoned railway bed, as Wilson novelly suggests, that’s an exciting vision that sparks the imagination in entirely new ways. In this vision we are not only avoiding a downtown nightmare, but embracing a new idea of what the downtown could become. Too bad this wasn’t part of the discussion a year or two ago.

But how likely is it? VTrans has firmly rejected the bypass in past discussions, and neither the selectboard nor the general public has had any appetite to gfiht back. No doubt it is the best outcome, but if it’s not viable from the state’s perspective, when does a good idea become indulging in fantasy when we need to deal with today’s hard realities? And, yet, is it ever a good time to give up on the best solution? Tough questions; no easy answers. 

Angelo Lynn

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