The Mad River Valley has made considerable progress in recent years in realizing its vision of vibrant, safe, and connected villages. Since 2014, the Town of Waitsfield has built 1.6 miles of sidewalks and 2 associated crosswalks – with 2 new crosswalks and 755’ of new sidewalk to be built in the summer of 2021. In Warren, the Main Street Improvement Project implemented streetscape improvements in the core of the village during the summer of 2017, enhancing pedestrian safety and access to local businesses. These projects were the result of local and state collaboration, resident support and advocacy, and thorough research, community engagement and planning.
Following an October 2020 pedestrian tragedy in Waitsfield and increased usage of rural roads during the COVID-19 pandemic, pedestrian safety took on new urgency. The Town of Waitsfield engaged with concerned citizens, the MRV Transportation Advisory Committee, the MRV Planning District and the MRV State Representative, and is now coordinating with a dedicated team from the Vermont Department of Transportation (VTrans) to identify challenges and potential short and long-term solutions. This work with VTrans is a positive and important step forward wherein the State owns the section of Route 100 that serves as Waitsfield’s “Main Street.” Alongside structural solutions, safety when sharing or crossing the road requires the awareness (such as eye contact) of all users.
There are inherent challenges for rural communities – especially those with a state highway as Main Street – looking to improve pedestrian safety. Still, our collective success to-date proves what can be done with thoughtful planning and collaboration.
For more information on Pedestrian Safety updates in the Town of Waitsfield, see the recent update here.