SWANTON VILLAGE — Swanton is headed for Better Connections.
Village trustee Adam Paxman confirmed the municipality will apply for the Better Connections program, a joint Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) grant during the village board’s regular meeting Oct. 22.
Not that village officials kept their intent to apply for the grant a secret. Elisabeth Nance, the community’s economic development coordinator, mentioned the possibility in connection with a recent traffic-slowing project downtown.
Swanton’s application follows that of Enosburgh, which received the grant funding during the last funding cycle. Enosburgh used the grant to hire a consulting firm, the SE Group, to develop a downtown revitalization plan, based on community input.
The downtown traffic project consisted of hay bales lining the Merchants Row parking lot, as well as several creating a “bump-out” for pedestrians crossing from the village park toward Canada Street. A bump-out extends the sidewalk near a crossing, minimizing the distance pedestrians have to cross, while at the same time increasing their visibility in doing so.
An AARP grant, to the tune of $4,000, funded the temporary demonstration, which village officials set up Oct. 12.
Its purpose was to show how barriers, or similar potential visual aids, might slow traffic around Merchants Row in the central downtown, the site of daily speeding. The bales, which village officials decorated with pumpkins, a toy bird skeleton and other seasonally festive decorations, did visibly slow traffic. Drivers seemed to slow faster and more safely for pedestrians crossing at the bump-out as well.
Downtown plans funded through the Better Connections program include potential traffic enhancements. Merchants Row could be a possibility.
That was the purpose of the demonstration project, and toward that end, it seems plainly successful.
For more on Swanton’s plan and the village board’s discussion, pick up the weekend edition of the Messenger, or subscribe to the online edition.