Planners ponder Depot Street changes

MANCHESTER - In the future, the Depot Street corridor could look very different.

Mark Anders, the regional planner/transportation manager of the Bennington County Regional Commission, gave a presentation of a conceptual design of what the corridor could look like during the Planning commission's meeting Monday night.

The big ideas involved in the plan, Anders said, include adding a bike lane to the road, more green space and trees, as well as the addition of some pedestrian refuge islands to create safer areas to cross the street.

"Each curb would come in four and a half feet," he said. "That will create this buffer of green strip to plant street trees."

Along with the green buffer with trees, a bike lane will be striped next to it. Anders said there are many different types of bike lanes that could be added, everything from just a lane to being painted to another color completely. The bike lane will come and go depending on the location of Depot Street.

Anders said it is not advisable to start that lane going downhill, because of the speed of the bike. Instead, in cases where a bike lane will not work, the bikes will merge with traffic.

One of the questions brought up regarding the new design was around trucks parking and unloading, like a UPS delivery, and if cars would be able to move around the parked truck.

"It's true, trucks are always an issue," Anders said. "But I think you have to keep in mind that it's a 25 mile per hour corridor and that gives a lot more flexibility in design the goal is designing something that is a little more inviting for trucks to pull over."

Anders said that some of the designs would help control speed on Depot Street and encourage drivers to stay with the speed limit, something that has previously been brought us as a problem. Part of the reason for the speeding is the wideness of the road, he said. By creating "friction" or narrowing the road, cars will be forced to slow down.

Because this design is conceptual, Anders said some of the areas where the road is narrowed might not be as narrow if the design moves forward. Engineering with determine what will work or won't work in actually practice. However, he said it is a good practice to start at the smallest point and move from there.

A turn lane would still be left in front of the Price Chopper, because of the amount of turning traffic, he said.

A major change would be making the Center Hill intersection would be much smaller. The exclusive right turn lane would be completely removed. "This is an extremely wide crossing, this sort of massive expansive of pavement," he said. "The idea was to make it more like a standard intersection."

Overall, this design is just ideas that could be implemented to make Depot Street more attractive. Anders said some of the changes, like removing access points into parking lots and adding green space may have to be approved by the property owners.

"This is sort of going to the max," he said. "But you may not want it all."


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