Putney Road redesign plan draws public input
By DANIEL BARLOW Southern Vermont Bureau | January 26,2006
BRATTLEBORO — More than 40 Putney Road property owners, business owners and town planners met with state transportation officials Wednesday night in the first step of a 10-year mission to reconstruct the traffic-heavy strip corridor.
Officials from the Vermont Agency of Transportation said they want as much information from people who live or work along Putney Road before drawing up preliminary designs that will hopefully address the myriad of problems associated with the strip.
"The bad news is that we are very early in this process," said Greg Bakos, an engineer with the design firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, who acknowledged that construction work is still at least a decade away. "The good news is that we don't have any preconceived notions of what this corridor will look like."
Concerns from locals expressed Wednesday were similar to the complaints about the town's main commercial strip in the past, notably its lack of pedestrian access, confusing intersections and driveways and its general unpleasant appearance.
Bakos said the state's main goals with redesigning the strip focus on increasing traffic mobility and safety, introducing pedestrian and bicycle access and improving the "community character" of the road. Wednesday's meeting was the first of three work sessions between state and local leaders as the needs of the corridor are identified.
Brattleboro planning officials and Putney Road business leaders are awaiting local approval of a master plan for the road, which calls for multi-story, multi-use buildings and an aesthetic similar to a vibrant downtown.
Newell "Russ" West, a former resident of Putney Road who participated in early talks to redevelop that part of town, said Wednesday that the new Brattleboro North End would include more housing and possibly a YMCA facility to generate a sense of community.
Planners and business leaders broke into four small groups Wednesday night — each based on a different piece of the strip — to generate specific road design changes as AOT officials spend the next six months preparing its makeover.
Michael LaCroix, another Putney Road business owner, suggested that connecting the handful of back roads running along the sides of the corridor would ease traffic congestion and reduce the likelihood of accidents.
"Right now, the main road is the only way to get from one location to another," he said.
Putney Road was developed from farm land into Brattleboro's main commercial strip just more than 50 years ago. This will be the first major redesign of the road since it was built.
Contact Daniel Barlow at email@example.com.