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Wendy M. Levy/The Commons

The sidewalks on the east side of Main Street in Brattleboro have been torn up as part of a renovation project.


Sidewalk project moves forward

Bulk of work may be finished by Oct. 1

BRATTLEBORO—The sidewalks on the east side of Main Street may look like sand dunes this week, but that’s a good thing, according to Town Manager Peter Elwell.

The town is replacing the sidewalks from the Kyle Gilbert Memorial Bridge to Walnut Street (across from Brooks Memorial Library). Work includes tearing out damaged sections and patching others.

Contractors have added a decorative brick strip between the sidewalk and the granite curbing. The brick also provides quick access to an underground conduit that will hold wiring for the street lights and future underground utilities.

According to Hannah O’Connell, highway/utility superintendent, contractors have poured most of the sidewalk between High and Walnut streets.

“We have encountered a number of old storage vaults/coal chutes that are underneath the sidewalk,” said O’Connell. “Each one of these requires individual attention to ensure that they are covered carefully before replacing the sidewalks.”

Progress is steady and the work is moving quickly, Elwell told the Selectboard on Sept. 15.

The quick work, however, has meant pedestrians walking downtown have done so on a bank of sand. Traffic has also needed to maneuver around large construction vehicles in the compact downtown.

These expected impacts were compounded, said Elwell, by a traffic accident last week. The driver of a box truck snagged the post holding the pedestrian cross button at the corner of Elliot and Main streets, in front of Life’s Little Luxuries.

Quoting an email he had received on the accident, Elwell said, “It’s never OK to drive on the sidewalk.”

This damaged pedestrian button made the downtown traffic lights flash ever since the accident.

Drivers on Main Street have had a flashing yellow traffic light, while drivers on the side streets, such as Elliot, have a flashing red. The Malfunction Junction intersection flashes red at traffic from all directions.

The pedestrian crossing signals are also disabled at this time.

O’Connell wrote in an email, “Because of the way our signals work (I would assume most signal systems), it goes into flash mode whenever there is an error in the system.”

DPW has ordered parts to fix the problem, but they may take a few weeks to arrive, O’Connell said.

Town officials expect the heavy construction to wrap up by Oct. 1. Minor work, such as adding signage, benches, or planters, will continue into next month.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #324 (Wednesday, September 23, 2015). This story appeared on page A1.

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