Middlebury seeks Exchange St. pathway for bikes and pedestrians

MIDDLEBURY — In addition to discussion concerns about the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) and the planned replacement of two downtown rail bridges (see story on Page 1A), the Middlebury selectboard at a Tuesday meeting:
• Unanimously agreed to ask VTrans to consider funding for an 8-foot-wide “shared-use” path along Exchange Street to accommodate pedestrians, joggers and cyclists.
The state has already endorsed plans for a 5-foot-wide sidewalk along the west side of Exchange Street, which hugs the town’s busy industrial park. The town is advancing a multi-phased plan to put a sidewalk along the entire length of Exchange Street, from its intersection with Elm Street to its convergence with Route 7. The plan is in response to recent growth in the industrial park, which has brought more workers to the area who want a safer means of negotiating the often busy, truck-filled road.
But cyclists and joggers are advocating that a wider “shared-use” path should be built to accommodate diverse uses. The selectboard on Tuesday agreed to ask VTrans to support the more ambitious and costly multi-use surface, hoping that the new request won’t jeopardize or substantially delay the possibility of a getting a minimum of a sidewalk.
The project in any case is not expected to be built before 2020, officials said.
• Agreed to support the purchase of a new ladder truck for the Middlebury Fire Department. The necessary funds have already accumulated in the town’s fire apparatus replacement fund.
• Supported the Ilsley Public Library’s request to spend $41,600 to hire an architect for preliminary design of a renovation and expansion plan for the historic Main Street structure. The library will hire Montpelier-based Gossens Bachman Architects — the low bidder — to do the work.
• Endorsed a management plan for the new dog park being established off South Street, near the Middlebury Regional EMS headquarters.

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