Plans evolve for Depot Street Corridor

MANCHESTER - The Depot Street Corridor has the potential to look different from its present state. Whether or not it will, or how soon the changes could occur, is the question.

At previous Planning Commission meetings, the Bennington County Regional Commission, has presented the plans they have drawn up, with everything from bike lanes to new medians. In 2013, the town received a municipal grant from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and signed on with the BCRC for the study in February of last year. The BCRC and the town will present this plan in to the town at a later date this summer.

Allison Hopkins, Manchester's director of zoning and planning, said this project has been submitted to VTrans [Vermont Agency of Transportation] and they have made minor changes. Mark Anders, the regional planner and transportation program manager with the BCRC who has worked with the town on the study, said they received good feedback from VTrans and that they liked the overall concept.

"The next step would be to set up a presentation [to the community] with the BCRC," Hopkins said.

Steve Grossfeld, a member of the planning commission, said he wants to see input from different groups around town, like individuals in the biking community, about these proposed changes.

Anders, who worked with the town on the grant and is a planner with the BCRC, said in an interview that this study was an update on one done in 2004.

"The big change between this study and the one done in 2004, the planning commission really wanted to add bike lanes and bike facilities," he said. "To add bike lanes, you really have to change the geometry of the road."

Along with bike lanes, this newer study added new curb cuts, medians and more pedestrian- friendly crosswalks. Anders also created a plan for moving the Green Mountain Power Station from its location on Depot Street, should the town want to move it.

"This study doesn't offer specific designs, but offers concepts," he said.

During the last planning commission, the group talked about possibly implementing one portion of the study, or to work on one section. Anders said that is the idea behind the design - there are larger pieces to implement at a later time, when the road is being repaved or a property changes hands. Otherwise, the suggestions are relatively inexpensive and deal with just painting some new bike lanes or putting up other inexpensive changes, Anders said.

"Our advice is to test out the ideas, don't make a huge investment and if it works great," Anders said. "You can make readjustments [as needed]. It's a really sensible way to do projects like this."

The planning commission will present the project to the community at a meeting this summer.


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