By Heather McKim
The focus of a special meeting of the town Selectboard held on April 10 was transportation planning for Shelburne village from 1963 to the present. Chair Tim Pudvar introduced the gathering as being the Board’s, “first true meeting to discuss the Loop Road.”
Town Planner Dean Pierce gave a presentation to the assembled crowd titled “Planning for Shelburne Village: Examples Past, Present, and Future.”
The Loop Road is not a new idea. It has been around in one form or another since 1963, but it has evolved over time. Through the years, the idea has been evaluated as part of traffic studies.
If implemented, the road could affect Falls Road’s design/traffic flow, impact traffic in the village, have economic and market impacts, and affect zoning in the town.
Pierce said that the Loop Road appears to have the support of major landowners. However, while the idea has been around in some form for decades, it has not enjoyed universal support from residents. This was reflected in some of the discussion that took place at the April 10 meeting.
Resident Jane McKnight questioned how the stakeholders’ group was created. She noted that, despite residing in and owning a business within the village, she had not received any notification. She added that she believes that all residents are stakeholders—a sentiment that was echoed by several others at the meeting.
Pierce explained the process through which the group was created. He had created a map using tax boundaries and according to the properties directly impacted by the possible alternatives. He did not extend this to any distance beyond the properties immediately bordering all of the possible alternatives.
What are the alternatives? There are multiple options for moving forward. One strategy would have intersection upgrades with a full Loop Road. Another strategy would have intersection upgrades with a limited Loop Road. A third strategy would implement right turns only from Falls Road and would include a limited Loop Road connection.
“There isn’t a design for the Loop Road. It has evolved over time,” Pierce said. He noted that the scoping study that is currently underway is not something from which one can build. Even after this study is completed, there will still not be a design for the Loop Road.
Pierce explained that a Loop Road would not be a highway-type road. Instead, it would be a standard town street.
Regardless of what the town decides to do, change will be coming to the village eventually. Member Al Gobeille said, “I don’t want the Loop Road to be something that happens to us.” He would rather that the street be town-planned rather than something that arises from a developer.
“I think [all residents are] stakeholders. That’s why we’re having these meetings,” Member Allison Cranmer said. She noted that many residents miss contributing their input because they don’t attend meetings, however.
Residents looking for more information can find parts of the traffic study on the town website. As the scoping study wraps up, more information will be posted on the site.
“It’s clear that we have a long road ahead of us—with no certain outcome,” Pudvar concluded.