Some Questions and Answers on the Downtown Streetscape Project

1.      What is the general timeline of the Streetscape Project at this point?

The Downtown Streetscape Project has gone well, and the final results are fabulous.  The project is estimated to be one month behind schedule, largely due to the ability to get key materials delivered and deal with conflicts and delays associated with the underground utility portions.  The major work on the project will be finished in September, and final details such as traffic signs, flower pots, banners, banner poles, and brick sand may extend into October.

City and project officials are just as excited as anyone else for the project to be finished, and we recognize and appreciate the patience of City businesses, residents and visitors.  It has not been easy for anyone to live, work, or visit with this project disrupting our community’s core, but we have heard innumerable times how much the final product is worth it.

 

2.      What is the Streetscape Celebration planned for September 5th?

On Thursday the 5th, the City will be closing the block of Main Street between Kingman Street and Lake Street to have a public celebration of how far we have come on the Streetscape Project and the positive effects we can already see, as well as to get excited for finishing the rest of the project.  The event will be from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.  A stage will be set up for the Starline Rhythm Boys to play, and there will also be speeches, food and products offered by Downtown businesses, a bouncy house and more.

The City will use the same traffic detour pattern on the 5th that it uses for the Maple Festival, including temporary use of Lake Street.

 

3.      Why is the new traffic signal still flashing, and why isn’t the top of Lake Street open yet?

The City’s primary concern with the new traffic signal and the opening of Lake Street is safety.  The new traffic signal at Main, Lake and Fairfield is still flashing because not all of the pedestrian signals can be installed yet and because the water line work on the southern block still requires room that the City needs to use as traffic lanes on South Main.  Without the ability to put cars in the correct lanes or allow pedestrians to request a red light to cross the street, the City cannot safely operate the signal.  Keeping Lake Street closed allows for a safer traffic pattern while the signal continues to flash, and it also gives pedestrians a guaranteed way to cross north-south at that intersection.  As soon as the traffic lanes can be restored on South Main, the pedestrian signals can be completed and the intersection is deemed safe for full use, the City will activate the signal and open the top of Lake Street.

The water line work on the south block is largely complete.  The next two weeks will include the work to make connections to the new line and test the water for safety.  The City anticipates finishing the water line work and getting the Main-Lake-Fairfield intersection back to normal during the week of September 16.

 

4.      Why was a step added along the street to the block between Congress and Bank Streets?  Why aren’t there railings?

 

One of the primary objectives of the Streetscape Project is to ensure that travel on our Downtown sidewalks is compliant with ADA codes.  The eastern section of sidewalk between Congress and Bank Streets had always been plagued with the fact that the sidewalks tipped too steeply from the buildings to the street, and the cross-grades were out of code.  In order to raise the western edge of the sidewalks up and bring the cross-grades into ADA compliance, the City needed to replace the two irregular steps along the street with three new uniform steps.  Since the steps are “monument steps,” railings are not required and thus were not put into the original Streetscape design or funding scheme.  However the City has heard concerns about the need for railings for people to get directly from cars to the sidewalk.  The City will build the Streetscape Project as designed and will need to take some more time to explore the concept of railings.

 

5.      Why do some of the parking spaces just painted on Main Street seem so narrow?

Quite frankly, some of the temporary parking lines just painted on Main Street are simply too narrow.  Errors were made when contractors measured out some of the spaces.  However these are not the final spaces that will be painted when the Streetscape Project is done and the final coat of asphalt is applied.  At that point, all parking spaces will be permanent and adequately measured.  The City apologizes for the inconvenience and appreciates everyone’s patience in the meantime.

 

6.      Why are there so many property transfers between the City and property owners along the Streetscape Project?

Folks who keep track of the list of properties being transferred in the City have noticed that a lot of buildings along the Streetscape Project seem to have been transferred to the City.  That is not the case.  The City has not purchased any buildings along Main Street on the Streetscape Project.  However the City did need some temporary easements from building owners to access utilities in basements.  When these temporary easements are filed with the City Clerk and the State, they also show up on the property transfer lists.  So it may look like the entire property transferred to the City, when it was actually just a temporary easement for access.  Furthermore, no money has changed hands in these transactions.


Thank you.
  It continues to be a privilege to work on this important project for the City, and I welcome any questions and comments.

 

Chip Sawyer
Director of Planning & Development

802-524-1500 x259
c.sawyer@stalbansvt.com

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