Workers rebuild the sidewalks along Route 5 in Putney, last year. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer file photo)
Workers rebuild the sidewalks along Route 5 in Putney, last year. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer file photo)
Thursday April 18, 2013

PUTNEY -- Two major transportation projects that have been under discussion for years have received funding, and work on both should begin in the coming year or two.

Putney found out recently that it will receive $250,000 from the Agency of Transportation for phase two of the town's sidewalk project which seeks to extend a walkway north, up Route 5, toward Landmark College.

And a state-sponsored and maintained park and ride, which is planned for an area near the fire station, has also been approved with work expected to start either this year or early in 2014.

Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard said the projects, which are located on the south and north ends of the village, will make it safer and easier to cut down on automobile use.

"They are both pretty big projects," Stoddard said. "We have received amazing feedback on the sidewalk we have already completed and how it has really changed some people's lives so we are looking forward to this next phase."

Earlier this year Putney completed a four-year project to completely upgrade the approximately one mile of sidewalk from Town Hall to the Putney Co-op.

The $250,000 VTrans money will allow the town to install a new sidewalk along Route 5, just beyond Basketville.

The town applied for $300,000 but VTrans capped this round of grants at $250,000 due to the large number of applications that were received.

Stoddard said Landmark College helped pay for half of the scoping study that was done, and also helped put the application together for the VTrans grant.

A Landmark representative could not be reached for comment Friday.

Stoddard said the town will continue to work closely with the school, though she could not say if Landmark would continue to financially support the project.

"Landmark is very much a part of this conversation," she said. "This project is very important to them, and I'm sure they will be working with us in some way."

"Landmark College is already an integral part of the Putney community, but establishing this safe pedestrian link is a concrete demonstration of how closely we are connected," stated Peter Eden, President of Landmark, in a press release.

The town will continue to do design and engineering work and get the necessary permits, though Stoddard said construction will probably not happen for another year or two.

On the south end of town, VTrans recently announced that it was ready to begin work on a long-planned park and ride near the fire station. The state owns the land there and leases it to the town for its fire station. Even before the fire station was built in 2006 the state had plans to build a park and ride, but the project was delayed.

Now, Windham Regional Commission Senior Planner Matt Mann said, VTrans has committed itself to beginning construction.

Bids are gong out this summer for the $800,000 project, which will include up to 82 parking spots, a bus shelter and bike rack.

Mann said work will likely start during the 2014 construction season.

The town has its recycling station located where the park and ride will be built and town officials are still trying to figure out where the bins will be moved to once work begins.

While other municipally supported park and rides have been built in the region, the Putney facility would be the first state park and ride in Windham County. Conversations about a Putney park and ride go back to 2000. The state will have to get permits from both Putney and Dummerston, as the land is located in both towns.

VTrans Project Supervisor Wayne Davis said the state's long-term goal is to have a similar facility at every highway interchange, and while that is going to take a very long time building the Putney park and ride should give drivers some options while traveling up and down I-91.

"We've needed a facility like this for a long time," Davis said.

Mann said with its location right off of Interstate 91 it could become an important resource in reducing carbon emissions and getting more cars off of the road.

"It's a very important project. It's a central location, right near the highway, that will provide a safe and well lit place for people to leave the cars," Mann said. "It's been a long time coming and I'm glad it looks like it's finally going to happen."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.