Study sought for proposed bicycle lane on Western Avenue

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BRATTLEBORO — Some financial help is wanted to study how a bicycle lane could be added to Western Avenue.

"It's important for these things to be engineered solutions as opposed to just being painted on the street," Town Manager Peter Elwell said during a recent Select Board meeting.

Plans for the project, he said, must consider the safety of bicyclists, but also pedestrians and motorists.

The Select Board approved a request by the town's Planning Services Department to submit an application for a $40,0000 Vermont Agency of Transportation Bicycle and Pedestrian Grant. The state money would support a scoping study for a bicycle lane, from the intersection of Main Street and High Street up Western Avenue to the Interstate 91 Exit 2 interchange.

"A scoping study looks at different alternatives, assesses right-of-way and environmental impacts, and develops cost estimates for design and construction costs," Planning Director Sue Fillion wrote in a memo. "It does not include construction."

Elwell said members of the town's Traffic Safety Committee "generally supported" the request to add bike lanes on Western Avenue.

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The request was to put the lanes between Speno Court and the Exit 2 interchange by removing parking on one side of the street and moving the lane striping, according to the memo, but town staff "felt that it was a good time to have a consultant study how bike lanes could be accommodated all the way to Main Street."

Many considerations around designs and engineering are necessary, Fillion said. These include the crown of the road and location of the bike lanes. She looks at the study as a "good opportunity to work through alternative designs and build public support."

Select Board Vice Chairman Tim Wessel said he is glad to see the area of focus expanded and believes the project would be a "great use of funds."

Elwell said town staff met with representatives from the Agency of Transportation, which supported the study and encouraged the town to go after the specific grant.

"We're optimistic that the town will receive these funds and will be able to complete this study."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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