Bristol paving project details outlined; options remain
BRISTOL — The town of Bristol is bracing for a pair of construction projects that are expected to cause major disruptions downtown.
Though project details, including scope and schedules, are subject to change, the Main Street lighting and sidewalk project will begin this fall. The downtown portion of Route 116 will get repaved next spring or summer.
Representatives from the engineering firm DuBois & King, which is responsible for both projects, presented their plans and answered questions at a public information meeting on May 13. Roughly 20 residents attended that meeting.
The original scope of the Main Street lighting and sidewalk project called for replacing 14 lampposts between North/South Street to west and the National Bank of Middlebury and Hatch 31 to the east, replacing the brick paver areas with stamped concrete to match the intersection, and realigning the granite curbing.
After conducting a detailed survey of the sidewalk areas, DuBois & King determined that existing conditions present challenges, and the firm has proposed three alternatives:
•Alternative A reflects the current/original scope. Its estimated cost: $312,000.
•Alternative B expands the scope of the project to include complete replacement of the sidewalk on the south (Hatch 31) side of Main Street. Its estimated cost: $431,000.
•Alternative C would include that replaced sidewalk and then extend the sidewalk and stamped concrete across driveways, thus emphasizing the pedestrian right-of-way. Its estimated cost: $455,000.
Alternative A would likely require about three months to complete, representatives said. Choosing Alternative B or C would add an additional month to the schedule.
The project will be funded in part with a $100,000 Downtown Transportation Fund grant, and the town will foot the rest of the bill by tapping some mix of the following funds, plus other sources:
•the Bristol Revolving Loan Fund.
•the Sidewalks Reserve Fund.
•the Capital Road Fund.
This June, the town plans to apply for additional funding from the Bike and Pedestrian Grant Program, said town administrator Valerie Capels.
Because much of sidewalk project needs to be completed before the paving can begin, DuBois & King urged the selectboard to make their final decision regarding sidewalk options as soon as possible to work schedules to become more specific.
Whereas the sidewalk project will be confined to the main business block of downtown Bristol, the Route 116 paving project is much greater in scope — 6,570 feet or 1.245 miles, from Airport Road to the west to just beyond the Lord’s Prayer Rock to the east.
The Vermont Department of Transportation (VTrans) will fund the paving project, which is part of the larger Starksboro to Middlebury Route 116 paving project.
Though VTrans typically tries to repave Class I highways every 10 to 15 years, it has not tackled this section of Route 116 since 1997. The project was delayed a couple of years because of the downtown waterline and drainage projects that were completed last year in Bristol.
DuBois & King representatives estimated the project could be completed in “half a season,” or just under three months. For instance, if construction were to begin on April 15, it’s possible it could be finished by July 4, they said.
They cautioned, however, that several factors could affect that schedule, including shifting VTrans budgets. That reminder was greeted with uneasy laughter at the meeting.
“As a downtown business owner I would like to highly recommend that you do not do this in the fall foliage season into the holiday season,” said Carol Wells, who owns and operates Bristol Suites and Vermont Marketplace. “If you could do it in the spring that would be much better for the businesses that are going to be affected.”
To the degree it is able, DuBois & King would be open to adjusting schedules, representatives said, but the current project is slated to begin as soon as the design process is completed, sometime in the fall of 2019.
Selectboard chairman Joel Bouvier asked if the sidewalk and lighting project were completed in the summer, could paving then start Aug. 1 and be finished by fall foliage season.
Such a schedule might be possible, DuBois & King said, as long as milling and other preliminary paving work could be performed while the sidewalk project was still under way.
The firm recommended that paving work be done at night through the downtown area, which would cause less disruption to local businesses and be more efficient for contractors, who would have less traffic to deal with. A six-night-a-week schedule is typical for these sorts of projects, representatives said.
The selectboard will make the final decision regarding sidewalk options and funding, and Capels said discussion will likely continue at the May 27 selectboard meeting.
Other details that must be decided include the number and location of handicap parking spaces, curb adjustments, drainage, crosswalk improvements, lighting details, and changes to signs.
Further public input is welcome at any time, Capels added, though she does not know if DuBois & King will be asked to give any more presentations.
Project documents were included among the meeting materials for the May 13 selectboard meeting and are available on the town’s website.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].
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