Middlebury lands $250,000 sidewalk grant

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury has landed a $250,000 federal grant to install a 1,560-foot stretch of sidewalk along the west side of Creek Road, a project that will be done in concert with major repairs to the road.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that state and federal authorities will not be able to release the money for around three years due to various administrative hoops associated with the grant, according to Middlebury Director of Operations Dan Werner. Since the town needs to do the sidewalk and street improvements simultaneously in order to minimize disruption, Creek Road will likely continue to languish on the project to-do list until 2015 or 2016. The road needs substantial paving and drainage repairs. The total estimated cost of that project is $670,000.
This section of Creek Road fronts Fucile Field, where Middlebury Union High School hosts varsity soccer and lacrosse games.
Middlebury will receive the sidewalk money through the federal Safe Routes to School project. The sidewalk will extend to the Trail Around Middlebury path and the new Addison County Transit Resources headquarters. The sidewalk is intended to provide greater safety to student athletes using the Fucile Field as well as to pedestrians in general.
“This really helps us out a lot,” Selectman Dean George, a member of the town’s Public Works Committee, said of the grant.
But the federal money, to be distributed through the Vermont Agency of Transportation, comes with a waiting period driven by some hefty administrative mandates, according to Werner. Among them, according to Werner: A requirement that separate engineering or consultants design, manage and oversee construction of the project.
“We could do the project tomorrow,” a frustrated Werner said on Wednesday. “But it’s a long process and procedure that the feds and the state have. It costs the taxpayers at least 10 percent (of the project costs) to access the money.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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