I’d like to add my voice to those who have spoken in opposition to paving Pond Road. I’ve lived on Pond Road for several years and would hate to see the road and the surrounding area change in the way that paving the road would create.
A large part in our choice to buy in Shelburne was its rural, small town nature. When I look at my mud-spattered car in the winter, I feel a sense of joy and a sense of accomplishment and contentment. I want to live on a dirt road; it brings me back every day to a less complicated time and a simpler world, one where quality of life wasn’t measured in miles per hour or modern-day convenience. I like it that way!
While I understand some of the arguments the other writers have put forth in favor of paving, I don’t agree with them. I don’t think that emergency vehicle access is a significant reason to pave a road. Three weeks ago, during a thaw that created some very mushy parts, a concrete pour was taking place at one of the houses on Pond Road. At least three or four concrete trucks safely navigated the very soft part of the road, full and empty. If they can travel through the muck, pretty much anything else can too. I don’t agree with the argument that the road is too rough to drive on without damaging vehicle suspensions and tires. Cars are built to withstand all kinds of harsh road conditions and, really, the bumps aren’t that bad, particularly if you pay attention to where you drive and how fast you go.
Cars travel too fast on Pond Road as it is. The speed limit is 35 mph, but on the straight, flat parts, 50 mph is more like it. I’d hate to guess what the speed would be on a smoother surface, but I know how fast people drive on some of the other 35 mph roads and I don’t want my road to be that kind of race course. I also don’t think that the Shelburne Police Department has the resources to adequately enforce the speed limit, at least not on a regular basis. I live on the downhill side of what will become a high speed blind hill and simply don’t want the risk of a collision every time I turn into or out of my driveway.
Pond Road represents nearby access to Vermont’s finest natural world, one with farms and water, open vistas and wildlife, cows, hay, and corn. The deer, the wild turkeys, the bobcats, and all the other creatures will be much more at risk if the road were paved. I’ve helped several big snapping turtles from the middle of the road at Pond Road’s marshy end. I’d hate to imagine what a paved, fast-traveled road would do to their chances.
With its winding way through the countryside, Pond Road is an ideal route for runners, bicycle riders, and walkers and its popularity proves that. The surface is much more forgiving for runners than asphalt. There is no way an adjoining pedestrian path will replace the feel of the county road. It’ll be just another sidewalk on a busy street.
The area doesn’t need another fast route between Shelburne and Route 116; there is Cheese Factory Road and Shelburne-Hinesburg Road. Neither is so well traveled that we need an overflow route to solve traffic backups.
Lastly, the cost of the project has to be considered. Quick research online tells me that the cost to pave this stretch of road will be hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe even close to a million, depending on how much substructure work is required and the rising cost of asphalt. Compare that price to the cost of a couple of dozen tons of local gravel added to the road every year, and I just can’t see any justification. Keep it dirt!
Rob Muessel, Shelburne