FAIRFAX – Contractors broke ground on the first phase of Fairfax’s sidewalk construction Wednesday, the next step in a decade-long effort to improve pedestrian traffic in Fairfax’s south village area.

Sidewalks on Route 104 improved and then extended, starting with existing sidewalks at the Hunt Street intersection. Construction will extend those sidewalks past the Fairfax Community Center project before ultimately terminating in front of Rainville’s Collision and Repair just south of the town offices.

“It’s been a project that’s been going on for a little over a decade, and we’re very excited we’ve finally gotten all the pieces in place to make this happen,” said town manager Brad Docheff.

Fairfax officials have largely framed the construction of sidewalks as a safety issue, contrasting the town’s sidewalk plans with concerns raised over speeding in Fairfax’s more densely populated village area.

Docheff also cited concerns for people with mobility problems, as current sidewalks were deteriorating well past the point of compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

“It’s going to increase the walkability of our town. It’s going to increase safety for folks walking around town,” Docheff said. “It’s going to make it easier for people with mobility issues to be able to get around and do things in town between our village center and our community center.”

Fairfax Town Manager Brad Docheff and selectperson Sheri Rainville during a previous meeting of the Fairfax selectboard. (MICHAEL FRETT, Messenger Staff)

The Route 104 improvements are phase one of the sidewalk plan. Upcoming phases would extend sidewalks further north toward the town offices and potentially Nan’s Mobil, considered in town planning to be the northern boundary of the village.

Fairfax already has $100,000 committed to the next phase of sidewalk construction, an allocation earmarked by a special vote earlier this year.

While that funding was originally planned to shore up funding for the Route 104 work, a $140,000 grant from the state meant Fairfax officials could afford saving that $100,000 allocation for future sidewalk plans.

“We’re very excited to finally be breaking ground and having phase one behind us as we look forward to more improvements,” Docheff said.

Docheff said he expects phase one construction to be completed sometime in either October or November.

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