CORNWALL/WHITING — After enduring the next few months of traffic delays on Route 30 south of Middlebury, drivers should enjoy not only a smooth new road surface, but also a much wider roadway to share with bikers, runners and other pedestrians.
Pike Industries last week began the $3.7 million project to upgrade nearly 12 miles of Route 30 from the Whiting-Sudbury line north through Cornwall into Middlebury near the golf course.
Bruce Byers has worked for six or seven years on a Cornwall town committee trying to make it safer for the many Middlebury College students and other pedestrians who traverse the road, sometimes in the travel lane.
“I was so happy to be stopped (by the paving crew),” Byers said last Thursday. “My major interest is the college kids have to run out in the road … It really is a contest between the drivers and the bikers. You have to worry because there just isn’t enough room.”
The Route 30 work is divided into two parts. From the Cornwall town offices, near the intersection with Route 74, north for about three miles into Middlebury, crews will perform what in the paving business is called a “full-depth reclamation.” According to Vermont Agency of Transportation spokesman John Zicconi, this involves grinding up several inches of payment and adding back several new layers of blacktop. While not a full reconstruction of the roadbed, Zicconi said the full-depth reclamation is the “premium treatment for a payment project.”
Workers will also extend the shoulders of Route 30 to three feet of pavement and another foot of gravel on each side. Zicconi cautioned that there were a few areas where ledge will make it impossible to construct the full three feet, but he said it will be added where it can.
“We try to extend the shoulders in places where we can because it makes the road more bike-friendly,” he said.
Byers said he will keep an eye on the line painting at the end of the project to make sure the shoulders get their due.
“The critical one isn’t the center line, the critical one is the ones on the side,” he said.
The southern nine miles of the project — from the Cornwall town offices to the Sudbury line — will not get the wider shoulders. “A lot of communities want us to do this,” Zicconi said. With limited funds available “we ask where do you get your biggest bang for the buck.”
In this part of the project Pike will level the road and repave it.
Whiting resident and town clerk Grace Simonds said the leveling needs to be done.
“I hope they’re shimming up the road. In front of the fire department (the edge) is one foot below the center,” she said. “It’s got to be better than it was.”
The leveling and repaving costs less than $300,000 per mile, while full-depth reclamation can cost more than $700,000 per mile, according to Zicconi.
Since this project didn’t get started (as planned) until fall, Pike is not required to finish it until next spring. Zicconi said it is possible it could be completely or substantially done before the snow flies, but he doesn’t want to raise expectations.
“My gut tells me most of the paving will be done this fall,” he said, noting that some ditching or markings could be left to complete next spring.
While Byers is very happy to see Route 30 made safer for pedestrians, he knows that a typical route takes bikers and joggers out Route 30, across Cider Mill Road and back toward Middlebury on Route 125. He’s next hoping to make that last stretch safer.
“After we get this done we have to go over and look at Route 125,” he said.
John McCright is at email@example.com.