DOVER — One part of a multi-phase expansion of the Valley Trail is visibly underway.
That's good news for pedestrians, bicyclists and skaters who frequent the trail.
"Folks love the trail," said Dover Economic Development Director Ken Black. "This will give them a variety of spots to walk."
All parts of the project could be completed by 2020 or 2021, Black said. But he warns that he is only guesstimating.
"Portion A" will concentrate on an area from Dorr Fitch Road to Green Mountain Interiors on Route 100. Installed will be a concrete sidewalk with granite curbing and street lighting to match the Dover Town Park's. Culverts also are being replaced with ones better equipped to handle drainage.
"Hopefully, it will make a difference. That's certainly the goal," Black said. "People are generally feeling that this is positive."
The new, 5-foot-wide sidewalks will connect to the Valley Trail along Route 100. Altogether, the new section will be 2,086 feet long.
Bazin Brothers Trucking was hired for the project. The construction company started putting up fencing on June 21.
"It's supposed to be completed by the end of September," said Black.
A $300,000 federal bicycle and pedestrian grant administered by the state was awarded to the town for this portion of the project. The town's Economic Development Department funded the 20 percent match through its budget, which comes from 1 percent local option tax revenue.
The paved Valley Trail section already in use is about three quarters of a mile and other portions being planned might also have blacktop as those are parts of a mixed-use trail. The new sidewalk will accommodate what Black calls the "main downtown area" near Town Offices and several businesses.
Ultimately, the goal is to expand the trail on both sides. Black said he is hopeful construction of the next section will start next spring.
"The next portion will be from Dorr Fitch (Road) to Toll Gate Village and will include a new pedestrian footbridge across the Deerfield River," he said, referring to the "A Minus" section. "We're waiting on VTrans (Vermont Agency of Transportation) to approve the preliminary plans. They go back and forth. You submit it, they make changes. You submit it again, they make more changes."
Once those plans are approved, Black said the project will go into a "right-of-way phase," where permission from property owners along the proposed trail will be sought. After easements are secured and a feasibility study is conducted, construction can begin. The town will look for more grant opportunities to help bring down building costs.
The "B Plus Portion" will expand the trail north from behind the park to the West Dover Fire Department. Currently, the trail ends in a parking lot where Dot's of Dover and the post office are located.
"That scoping study was just completed," Black said. "We're waiting for acceptance from VTrans. We're in the process of applying for another construction grant for that portion of the project."
The last section in the project will focus on continuing the trail from the firehouse to the South Access Road of the Mount Snow ski resort. A grant to conduct a scoping study was approved and the money is available, said Black. He hopes the study will be completed this year.
This area presents "a real safety issue," Black explained.
"The mountain (Mount Snow) hires a lot of kids who come from South America, A lot of times, they're walking on the side of the road. It's ridiculous," he said. "Someone potentially could get hurt."
The upgrades could change the experience for visitors. Instead of being a place "you just speed through to get to Mount Snow," Black said he thinks the trail will make that area of town more inviting.
"It's going to change the complete landscape of the town of Dover, the downtown area. That's my opinion," he said. "You're going to want to stop and look around and take a walk around."
Contact Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.