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A bicycle lane could soon be added to a portion of Western Avenue on Route 9 in Brattleboro.

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BRATTLEBORO — Public feedback is shaping a scoping study aimed at adding bicycle lanes along Western Avenue on Route 9 for a safer experience.

At a meeting held remotely Monday, Brattleboro Planning Director Sue Fillion said the project started in the fall with state funding and covers Route 9 from Main Street up to the Exit 2 interchange on Interstate 91.

“I think this is awesome,” said Dave Cohen, director and founder of VBike, which seeks to increase the number of bicyclists in Vermont by making biking accessible in a variety of ways.

Monday marked the second public meeting to solicit feedback. At a meeting in December, the project garnered a lot of support from the community.

Engineer Christina Haskins of Dufresne Group said the goal is to improve safety, connectivity and accessibility. Also considered is the use of the roadway by families and children.

Haskins said Brattleboro Department of Public Works staff advised that when sidewalks in town are replaced, they are made 5 feet wide. The sidewalks on Western Avenue are currently about 4 feet wide.

One option involves modifying the roadway to add bike lanes and eliminating some parking. Travel lanes for vehicles would be reduced by about 6 inches to be about 11.5 feet wide.

Another option would add bike lanes, eliminate some parking and widen sidewalks to about 5.5 feet wide. Travel lanes for vehicles would be reduced to about 11 inches.

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Wider sidewalks would better accommodate children and families on bicycles as well as pedestrians, Haskins said. They also would improve conditions of the current paths and overall accessibility because they would be constructed in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Bike lanes could be created “fairly quickly with minimal cost,” Haskins said, whereas sidewalk construction would take longer. She noted that narrower travel lanes for vehicles “tend to result in traffic calming where vehicles travel at slower speeds.”

By having sidewalks suggested in the final scoping study, Haskins believes the town would be well suited to receive funding assistance from the state in the future.

Alternatives for parking include eliminating parking entirely on the north or south side, or having parking meander back on forth on both sides of the road. No decisions have been made yet on where parking will be removed, Haskins said.

An informal poll to meeting participants resulted in 11 people wanting the parking to meander from side to side throughout the length of the roadway. Three participants said they wanted parking on the north side and just as many wanted it on the south side.

Options for bike lane surface treatments include painting white lines, bicycle symbols, arrows, and dashed lines to indicate the lanes continue where vehicles might be turning; white lines to show the lanes but painted crossings at driveways and intersections; or fully painted bike lanes. The presentation showed painted crossings and lanes being green with white lines on the outside.

The options are respectively estimated to cost $7,000, $14,000 and $680,000. An informal poll of meeting participants resulted in five people wanting nonpainted bike lanes, 13 preferring painted crossings and no one advocating for the fully painted lanes.

The plan is to submit a report to the town and the state in late April, hold a third public meeting in June and submit a final report later that month. Haskins said project leaders want to reach as many community members as possible so Monday’s presentation and a survey will be available at brattleboro.org.

The Select Board is expected to decide on a preferred alternative before work begins. The town has no plans to take property under eminent domain for the project, Haskins said.


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