Brandon street to get million-dollar makeover

BRANDON — A plan to fix pothole-laden main street in Brandon moved forward on Town Meeting Day when town residents OK’d a funding of a renovation plan.
The $1.4 million bond question to pay for infrastructure improvements to Park Street passed overwhelmingly, 488-123.
Much of Monday night’s town meeting discussion at the Brandon Town Hall centered on the details of the proposed plan. The project, as outlined by Selectman Devon Fuller and Aldrich & Elliot Engineer Jason Booth, would update the water, stormwater runoff, and wastewater systems under the road, in keeping with the state’s push to decrease pollutants running into Lake Champlain.
The Park Street plan includes bio-swales, vegetated areas spread along the sides of Park Street that would catch rainwater. The plantings in the swales would filter out phosphorus, the chief pollutant, as the stormwater gradually runs into the underground stormwater catch basins.
Booth Fuller and Booth said the plants in the swales will be water plants and salt-resistant.
The project is set to begin in early 2018 and end by winter 2018. The whole road, which has been deteriorating for years, will be leveled and graded once the infrastructure projects are completed. A coat of paving will be put down, and in 2020 when the Vermont Agency of Transportation re-paves Route 73 over Brandon Gap, they will come down Park Street and do the final paving.
At Monday’s town meeting, Booth explained that the project will tie into the Segment 6 upgrade of Route 7 that began last summer.
“The intent is to be a continuation of where Segment 6 ends and Park Street begins,” he said. “The intent of for it to be aesthetically pleasing.”
Faith Claessens asked Town Manger Dave Atherton if anything is going to be done about Park Street between now and when the work begins, as winter has taken a toll and there are potholes everywhere.
“We are talking about that right now,” Atherton said. “It’s gotten so bad and we know we can’t go through next winter the way it is.”
Mary Lou Webster asked if the original marble curbing along Park Street would be salvaged and reused. Booth said they would try to save what they could, but noted that a lot of it is crushed and/or broken.
“We would follow the Segment 6 design, which is granite,” he said, “but if Historic Preservation says we have to preserve the historic character and put in marble, that’s what we will do. We can try and preserve the marble that’s there now, but a lot of it is in pretty bad shape.”
Brandon architect Robert Black commended the plan, suggesting that the town use it to promote Brandon, perhaps with a webcam and other marketing tools.
“This is a really powerful and important project for the town,” he said, “and I’m really impressed with the professional development and the conversation we’re having tonight.”
With the positive bond vote, the town will now apply for grants to fund as much of the Park Street project as possible, likely bringing the total cost well below the estimated $1.4 million. The end cost will be raised through water and sewer rate increases in concert with Brandon Fire District No. 1.

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