- Opportunities For
Transportation networks and infrastructure set the stage for land use and economic development—getting it right matters. The right transportation systems lead to healthy communities and uphold the Vermont way of life.
What does “getting it right” mean? It means appropriate road geometry—width, turning space, buffers. It means that pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit are equally important users of the systems and the network’s design should accommodate them, with common sense taking priority over engineering. It means arranging roadways, parking lots, and streetscapes at a human scale to encourage commerce by creating a sense of place.
We want vehicles to move safely through our neighborhoods with joggers and dog-walkers; we want people (not cars) to move easily around our downtowns to shop in our stores; we want our seniors to get safely where they need to go with independence; and we need commodities to move quickly in and out of our region. The RRPC achieves this with planning and implementation, and by working hand-in-hand with our towns.
Complete Street are streets built to accommodate all forms of human travel—humans on bikes, humans in cars and buses, and humans on foot (or skate, or scooter, or…). Complete streets also are good for local businesses because people need to be out of their cars to go into shops and because motorists notice businesses more when moving at a slower speed. Complete streets include things like narrow vehicle travel lanes, bike lanes, crosswalks, intersection bulb-outs, liner buildings, street furniture, trees, lighting, and on-street parking.
It’s also a law, which passed in 2011. The law states that the needs of all users are to be considered when road projects and updates are done (RRPC can help you create these money-makers for your town, just give us a call!).
Transitioning a street to a Complete Street—striping for bike lanes and crosswalks, adding bulb-outs-- can be done when roadways are repaved or redesigned. Amenities, like benches and lighting, can be incrementally added.
The benefits of Complete Streets include improved safety (fewer car accidents, especially involving pedestrians and bicyclists) and economic development. Complete Streets promote “walkability”, which is a key economic development ingredient. Walkability means making it easier for more people to visit more businesses to spend more money. People are more likely to walk around-- and into stores-- if the streets are aesthetically pleasant, accessible to all users, and feel safe.
RRPC hosts meetups for Road Commissioners. The meetups are the place to learn about regulations, programs, and funding that affect their daily work. It’s also an opportunity for Commissioners and Foremen to rub elbows and swap stories with each other and with state agencies.
The meetups are once a month at noon from September through April-- weather depending (the roads won’t plow themselves!) -- and are held at different towns and garages across the region.
Contact Steve Schild for more info or check our Community Bulletin Board for the next meetup.
Funding opportunities usually come from the state. These opportunities include VTrans Class 2/Structures grants; Bike-Ped grants; Transportation Alternatives, which has links with water quality; the Downtown Transportation Fund that is specific to improving designated downtowns; and ecosystem restorations. The VTrans website is the best place to get info about the latest funding opportunities.
This is state program (formerly known as Better Back Roads) that provides funding for town road projects to lower maintenance costs and improve water quality—mainly erosion control. There are four categories of Better Roads funding and RRPC is happy to help with applications for all Better Roads categories.
We can provide maps, cost estimates, letters of support, and technical assistance. Give Steve Schild a call today for help or to get answers to questions. Please visit the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s website for complete information about the Better Roads program and for grant forms.
This general permit is intended to achieve significant reductions in stormwater-related erosion from municipal roads, both paved and unpaved. MRGP practices are designed to improve water quality, be cost-effective, and easy to maintain whenever possible.
Municipalities will implement a customized, multi-year plan to stabilize their road drainage system. The plan will include bringing road drainage systems up to basic maintenance standards, and additional corrective measures to reduce erosion as necessary to meet a “Total Maximum Daily Load” or other water quality restoration efforts. The permit is required by Act 64, the Vermont Clean Water Act (2015) and the Lake Champlain Phase I TMDL (2016).
Examples of possible practices are: stone-lined ditches and check dams, turnouts, road crowning, culvert headers, and outlet stabilization, and regular catch basin clean out and sweeping.
“Infrastructure” includes roads, bridges, culverts, and signs. “Inventorying” means hitting the ground—usually with town staff—to document the size, shape, condition, materials, GPS coordinates and any erosion issues with the infrastructure. This data is used to rank the infrastructure’s condition—rough, fair, good—and to prioritize work. It also is a way to capture local knowledge as road foremen or commissioners retire. Inventories are done from April until winter kicks in. The Better Roads program is the best vehicle (hee, hee) to do this work.