Public offers input on Depot Street redesign
MANCHESTER >> Six alternative designs for the Depot Street corridor were explained to the public on Wednesday night by Corey Mack of RSG Inc. and Jim Donovan, landscape architect of Broadreach Planning & Design.
The alternatives are the result of the redesign of the road between the roundabout at Main Street and US Route 7A and Richmondville Road in order to increase walking and bicycling, as well as to make it safer for pedestrians. Initially, 34 different alternatives came out of a meeting with the steering committee and design consultants, but was later reduced to eight. Six road designs were presented and the other two involved better street lighting.
"The last important group is basically [the public]," Donovan said. "We don't see ourselves as coming in and saying 'This is what you should do.' We're here to help you create options and images and then help you select what you think is the best one. We review them and make sure they're all workable and don't have any safety issues."
Main concerns of the public included emergency access, snow removal storage and space and safety of bicyclists. The width of the current outer lanes is 14 feet with a 12-foot wide center lane. Two crosswalks currently exist at Marble Mill and the Price Chopper shopping plaza.
The first three alternatives would not alter existing curb sides:
A1: Textured center lane — Paved shoulder of 4-feet, not a bicycle lane but can be used for it, center turning lane with texture, could curtail speeding and defines street edges.
A2: Center drainway — Grass in the center of travel lanes would allow for additional drainage and involves a grade. It's the most expensive option at $738,325 and raised concerns for emergency access. There would be a 4-foot shoulder and it could curtail speeding.
A3: Bicycle lanes — Marked 5-foot wide shoulder with a 2-foot buffer lane for travel lane. It would not curtail speeding, add green space, improve aesthetics or address drainage issues.
The next three offered curb changes:
B1: New curbs, two greenways and bicycle lanes — Alternating green spaces when possible, a center turning lane, a designated bicycle lane and an upgraded drainage system. This option agrees with all issues around speeding, aesthetics and serving all potential users except for benefitting motorists.
B2: New curbs, south side greenway and bicycle lanes — The last two options are similar in that the green spaces would depend on turning lanes and driveways.
B3: New curbs, changing greenways and bicycle lanes
The group of about 20 in attendance mostly liked B3 because their biggest concern was having a turning lane to enter businesses. It also has a 5-foot bike lane and 5-foot green space. With B2, there was discussion of removing turning lanes, but the disadvantage of that is having backed up traffic and danger for bicyclists because of cars that would pass on the right side. Mack explained that there aren't turning lanes on Main Street, which has considerably more traffic than Depot Street, and it curtails speeding. Option B3 costs $635,500.
The design consultants will generate a more detail redesign and present it to the town select board with a date yet to be determined.
With option B3, green space and turning lanes will alternate given provided space.
Funds will come from the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Program made up of $800,000 along with $80,000 in local money, for an anticipated $1.2 million project.
The outcome of turning lanes and crosswalks will be determined after an alternative is chosen.
Many said that the retail demographic is changing and that the town needs to change with it to attract a younger population. Donovan explained that people bike a lot of places now for a combination of commuting and exercise. One resident added that the town is in the process of offering bike racks to certain property owners and businesses, which will allow for more shoppers who travel via bicycle.
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-490-6471
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