Bristol’s Prince Lane project underway

BRISTOL — Crews have begun construction on a number of improvements to Prince Lane in the heart of Bristol. Project administrator Carol Wells said the work will make the area safer for motorists and pedestrians, as well as improve the downtown aesthetics.
“The impetus of the project was to improve appearances, taking down all the ugly wires and poles, screening in the dumpsters, and mainly to provide safe access to pedestrians,” Wells said.
The project is entirely funded by state, federal and private grants. Since the project exceeded grant funds that were immediately available, the town divided the project into two phases. Chittenden County real estate magnate Ernie Pomerleau has verbally committed to funding the second phase, Wells said.
The first phase of the project includes burying power lines and removing utility poles behind Main Street shops, installing sidewalks and vintage lampposts, laying new sod and landscaping, fencing in dumpsters, improving the road’s drainage, and adding curbs, crosswalks and more traffic signs.
The second phase, when it is built, will focus on more aesthetic improvements, such as adding curb islands with trees to demarcate the parking lot.
Wright and Morrissey, a South Burlington construction firm, is lead contractor on the project. Crews broke ground July 21, and the company estimates the job will take six to eight weeks to complete, depending on weather conditions and other contingencies.
No town money will be used for the project, which Wells said will cost about $300,000.
Wells said the project has been a long time in the making. When the town applied for Downtown Designation, a program run by the Department of Housing and Community Development to spur the growth of Vermont’s downtowns, officials had to draft three capital improvement projects.
“One of the main things that came up was improving the back parking lot area of Prince Lane,” Wells said, adding that residents raised concerns about “cars going all over the place, and pedestrians having no place to go.”
Wells said that residents also wished to improve the look of the back of Main Street buildings, where dumpsters were exposed.
The new space will have sidewalks along the back of Main Street buildings, and two well-marked crosswalks to improve pedestrian safety. The new sidewalk will also narrow the area where cars can drive, which Wells said will also improve safety. The parking lot, as reported in numerous press releases from the Bristol Police Department, has been the scene of many fender benders and minor accidents in recent years.
Wells said she has high hopes for the project, and said that many residents have said these improvements are long overdue.
“I hope it will improve safety in traffic flow through the area, and improves the aesthetics along the backs of those buildings,” Wells said. “I think most everyone sees it as a project that is needed and will be beneficial for the downtown.”

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