During 2018, three Middlebury College students created a project for their Environmental Studies Senior Seminar, and their ideas and research have resulted in a $35,000 grant to fund the development of the "Tri-Town Bike Loop". This professionally-planned route will connect the three Addison County towns of Middlebury, Bristol, and Vergennes, and supporters envision that this will be a benefit for local residents as well as a way to encourage bicycle tourism to the area.
Read the background on this project here: Tri-Town Bike Loop
You can also read about the project in our community newspaper, the Addison Independent
New Haven, VT – The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) awarded $35,000 a consortium grant to the town of New Haven and City of Vergennes to develop a Triangle Cycling Loop Master Plan. The grant came from state Municipal Planning Grant funds. A consultant will be hired to engage residents of Bristol, Ferrisburg, Middlebury, New Haven, Vergennes and Waltham in planning a dedicated bicycling route between these towns that provides a safer space for both drivers and cyclist sharing the roads. The project successfully competed against 67 municipalities and was one of 29 funded.
The application was inspired by the Walk Bike Council of Addison County. The Council worked with a group of Middlebury College students a year ago to survey motorists and cyclists. That team created preliminary cycling loop maps.
“We saw how close we are to having a safe bike loop connecting our three major towns. Only a few road sections need shoulder and signage improvements. Adequate and well-maintained shoulders rose over and over as the leading feature in determining whether a road is suitable for biking,” said Doug McKain, a Council member of the Walk-Bike Council of Addison County and co-author of an earlier survey in New Haven. A specific road map plan will be created which will include designs for street signage and plans for roadway retrofits to make this Triangle Cycling Loop a dedicated, safe cycling route around the county.
“Working towards safe, regional cycling connections between our three designated downtowns has social, environmental and economic benefits to each civic hub, and the region as a whole,” stated Shannon Haggett from the City of Vergennes Planning Commission. The region will have a year and a half to complete this project.
The Addison County Regional Planning Commission assisted with the grant application and will act as the project coordinator. “This project will bring together communities in our region and enhance recreation and transportation options. The Regional Planning Commission looks forward to working with the partners,” noted RPC Transportation Planner Mike Winslow.
“As Vermont continues to grow its economy, maintain a high quality of life and attract new people and business to the state, Municipal Planning Grants help communities accelerate local solutions, energize downtowns, remove barriers to much-needed housing,” said Vermont DHCD Commissioner Katie Buckley.
Awarded annually and administered by DHCD, the Municipal Planning Grant program supports local community revitalization and planning initiatives. Since 1998, the program provided over $12 million to 234 cities and towns across Vermont, bringing people together to adopt useful and relevant municipal plans and implementing those plans through downtown revitalization, updating regulations, improved capital budgeting and innovative projects that to prepare for the challenges they face.
Please click for more information about Municipal Planning Grants from the State of Vermont.
The Walk-Bike Council's Infrastructure and Project Review working group reviewed VTrans' upcoming VT-17 highway paving project and provided feedback on how the project could be tweaked to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
One of the goals of the Walk-Bike Council's Infrastructure and Project Review working group is monitor upcoming infrastructure projects at the local and state levels and provide feedback to municipalities and VTrans regarding pedestrian and bicycle improvements that can be made to their projects before designs are finalized.
The working group reviewed VTrans' upcoming VT-116 highway paving project and provided feedback on how the project could be tweaked to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. The group reviewed the project's design plans and prepared feedback based on community input, traveling the route and looking at the roadway, and historical personal experience. This feedback was sent to the project engineers on October 1, 2018:
In the spring 2018 semester, Middlebury College students Connor Pisano, Hunter Joshua Cole, and Maria Celes Abragan conducted a data gathering project with three components:
- Cyclists and Motorists Road Use Attitudes
- Desirable Infrastructure
- Bikeable Roads for Long Distance Cycling
Data was gathered using focus groups and an online survey. GIS (Graphic Information System) analysis was used to determine:
- which Addison County roads are more conducive to cycling,
- which roads are not conducive to cycling, and
- the best cycling routes between the three major Addison County towns.
Do you walk, bike and/or drive a car in Addison County? We are interested in hearing from you! The Walk Bike Council of Addison County, in partnership with Middlebury College and Local Motion is exploring travel habits and transportation infrastructure in Addison County. Thank you for your time and input!