Town Manager’s Column: All About Town (June 2015)

IMG_3585ALL ABOUT TOWN

by Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

At the June 8th Select Board meeting, Dan Monks, Assistant Manager and Planning Director, accompanied by Mark Anders, BCRC Transportation Planner, and Jason Dolmetsch, MSK Engineering, presented an update on eight (8) pathway/pedestrian and bicycle enhancement projects underway here in Bennington.  I wanted to take some time to highlight them.

Kocher Drive, from Aldi to East Road: This project involves a shared use bike path with signalized intersection improvements at Route 7/Kocher Drive. This will provide a safe route for pedestrians and bicyclists alike through this very busy corridor. Cost: $700,000; local share $50,000. Schedule for completion 2016-2017.

The Ninja Trail, from Hicks Avenue to Bennington College entrance: this proposed path is 2.12 miles long beginning at the pedestrian bridge on Hicks Avenue and running along the Walloomsac River behind Walmart and Hannaford to the entrance to Bennington College. It will cross the Furnace Brook at its confluence with the Walloomsac River. Cost: $990,000 to $1.4 million. This cost can be reduced by use of volunteers and Town DPW staff and equipment. Schedule for completion, dirt/gravel portion 2016; paved portion, 2019.

Benmont Avenue Bike/Ped Improvements, from the Holden/Leonard Mill complex to Hunt Street: This project will consist of sidewalk like improvements with green space on the westerly side of Benmont Avenue to gain separation from vehicular movements. Cost: $200,000. This can be reduced substantially be the use of Town DPW personnel and equipment.

Bennington Rail/Trail, from Bennington Station along the railroad r.o.w. to just below Applegate: This is one of the longest term projects on the table. It consist of using the railroad r.o.w., removing the rails and ties, and allowing the cinder bed to become a shared use pathway. With local share monies already set aside, the Project has been delayed by a combination of State and railroad restrictions which make creating a rail/trail a difficult process. Cost: $900,000; local share $90,000. Schedule for completion 2017

Applegate to Willowbrook Path: This project will connect these two developments with a shared use path that will provide safe passage to Northside Drive. It will eliminate busing to Molly Stark School for Applegate children. Cost: $100,000, no local match. Schedule for completion 2017.

Pleasant Street/School Street Enhancements, from Main around on to Pleasant Street east to Main Street: This project will add historic streetlights to School Street and sidewalks and landscaping along Pleasant Street east around to Main Street. Cost: $260,000; local share $26,000 with additional work done by the Town DPW personnel and equipment. Schedule for completion: 2016.

Franklin Lane: This project will improve the pedestrian use of this narrow roadway, improve aesthetics, and add lighting to the entire length. Cost: $230,000, local share $115,000. Schedule for completion 2017.

Greenberg Headwaters Park Trail Network: This recently acquired parcel already has an existing network of trails. The project will improve the existing trails and increase access by installing more trails. Cost: unknown at this time. Schedule for completion 2017 after development of Management Plan.

These are all exciting projects. They will enhance bike/pedestrian opportunities and provide access to some beautiful, natural places in Bennington.

Remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions arising from this column or on any town matters, please contact me at 442-1037 or stop in at the Town Offices on South Street.

Stuart Hurd is Bennington’s Town Manager. He writes a monthly column on town issues.