WEST DOVER >> Motorists and pedestrians alike will be happy to know the latest phase of the Valley Trail expansion project is nearly complete.
"They're putting on the final portions of blacktop and doing whatever paving work they need to do, then they'll do the line striping on Route 100 and Crosstown Road," Ken Black, town economic development director said Thursday. "Then I guess they'll be done."
New concrete sidewalks with granite curbing in West Dover extend the paved portion of the Valley Trail on Route 100, starting from where the blacktop ends at the Mount Snow Marketplace then going past Town Offices to the bottom of Dover Hill Road. The sidewalk switches sides of the road when it reaches Crosstown Road.
New streetlights also were installed in conjunction with the sidewalks. Black has suggested the prospect of adding the same type of lights to the paved portion of the Valley Trail but there are no plans to do so yet.
A $300,000 federal bicycle and pedestrian grant administered by the Vermont Agency of Transportation was awarded to the town for this phase 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.
Bazin Brothers Trucking started the job in June. The project had taken roughly four weeks longer than anticipated.
Black said various problems — mostly involving undersized catch basins and culverts, which were causing drainage issues — needed to be addressed. One culvert had to be replaced because it had "completely collapsed."
A wellhead was encountered by workers in front of Ugly Duckling Yarn and a septic tank was found by the West Dover Inn.
"That was exciting," Black said. "It was a giant septic tank probably left over from right before they had the wastewater treatment plant."
Timing issues also were experienced. For example, at one point, cement did not arrive when expected.
State permitting played a factor in adding days to the project.
"You can only have perimeter drains and roof rains but you can't have basement drains, like sub pumps. So, we ran into a couple of those along the way. Basically the state required us to cap off the basement drains," Black said. "We had to literally do that and the property owner had to find a way to dispose of that water somewhere else. We saw that, ironically, in the Town Offices, and at the [West Dover Congregational] Church and the attorneys [Fisher and Fisher]."
Still, he said, the project went smoothly.
"From what I understand, this is pretty normal for what you run into," Black said, admitting this was the first time he had been involved in a project of this kind.
One of the goals was to make improvements to the drain systems.
"I think the intent was to make sure that stretch of Route 100 was as good as we could possibly make it from a drainage point of view," Black said. "I think overall it's been a positive response. A couple of people may have had some issues but we attempted to resolve that."
The new sidewalks will offer pedestrians space to walk in an area where it had been difficult to previously. Black said he thinks the new path will bring foot traffic to a lot of businesses.
A guardrail will be installed between the street and new sidewalk along Route 100 adjacent from Mount Snow Marketplace. The guardrail is estimated to cost about $12,000.
"We're trying to make arrangements. VTrans is trying to find some money for us to pick it up on their expense," Black said. "I think it's a huge safety issue in light of the fact that there's been three accidents there in recent memory."
As part of the continued expansion of the Valley Trail, the town is currently in the design phase for a section to go from Dorr Fitch Road to Tollgate Plaza. A new bridge is part of the project, which was already approved for grant funding. VTrans is providing a $375,000 grant through the bicycle and pedestrian program. Again, the town will have to match the project cost at 20 percent.
Black expects preliminary plans could be approved within the next two weeks if the Agency of Natural Resources does not request a study. The town will then be moving forward with establishing plans around easements and rights-of-way.
"We'll give it a solid try for 2017," Black said, acknowledging that any delays are likely to set it back to the following year.
Another piece of the Valley Trail will extend the existing paved portion by the Dover Town Park and Mountain Park Plaza to the West Dover Fire Department building. The town is on a waiting list for a bicycle and pedestrian grant, and a scoping study is underway.
Black anticipates all phases of the Valley Trail expansion could be completed by 2023.
Contact Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273