LEBANON – The city has unveiled a $4 million plan to redesign West Lebanon’s Main Street corridor with streetscape improvements, including a roundabout at the intersection of Main Street and Street Bridge, to improve West Lebanon and make the area more attractive to residents and visitors.
David Brooks, director of planning and development, told a recent city council meeting that the city has done a lot of work to find what people want and, overwhelmingly, residents and property owners company say looking better is top of the list.
“One of the main recommendations coming out of the 2019 vision charrette was the desire and needs for street design to make it more attractive to spend time there,” Brooks said, referring to a workshop from design that took place in October before the pandemic.
Brooks said the study had been underway for a year and a half and the West Lebanon Revitalization Advisory Committee was studying the matter.
In a report to the council earlier this month, city staff said the need to improve the urban landscape in western Lebanon dates back decades, citing a series of reports and studies showing that it This was a priority for residents and business owners.
Among the many needs identified were the relocation of on-street parking, wider sidewalks, buffer zones between cars and pedestrians, landscaping, improved connectivity for pedestrians, improved accessibility and places to sit in the shade and more.
The West Lebanon Revitalization Advisory Committee, which has studied the issue, advised the city to focus on key areas such as Westboro Rail Yard, Greenway and Bridge Street Park, as well as give priority to zoning changes and economic development.
The common thread, according to Brooks, is “opportunities to make it more enjoyable and enjoyable to spend time there.”
“It just needs a little TLC,” he said. “Downtown needs love and attention.”
Brooks said the planning and development department has held a variety of public events to gather feedback and now hopes to get permission from city council to continue work towards a final design and permits.
Grant funding is underway, with hopes to begin construction soon.
One element that is sure to be controversial is a planned roundabout replacing the intersection of Main Street and Bridge Street.
Greg Bakos of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin presented the program and said traffic analysis shows the roundabout is a better option for the intersection.
A roundabout would result in reduced traffic delays, no left turns, traffic calming, reduced vehicle speeds, no maintenance of traffic lights, and better landscaping.
It would also be a safer option for walking, Bakos said.
“One thing you will notice about the roundabout is that you will have crosswalks that will be better,” Bakos said. “You will be able to cross one lane at a time to take refuge in islands in the middle. Always looking to your left. It is a simplified pedestrian environment.
The roundabout is not just a beautification project but would allow the city to repair an intersection which is currently considered ‘failing’ because it is not designed for the amount of traffic it currently handles . Adding lanes to the current configuration is not an option due to ROW space constraints
Many residents who spoke about the project were supportive of the roundabout and its contribution to efficiency and safety.
City councilors were also supportive, with some reservations.
Karen Liot Hill said she supported the roundabout, but she called for a pedestrian survey, similar to the traffic survey, to study the impact on pedestrians and not just vehicles.
As for the cost of the project, the estimate currently stands at just over $4 million. The price has risen significantly since planning for the project began, Bakos said, although the work extends not only to surface-level visuals, but also to infrastructure works, including water improvements. storm drains and sewer replacement.
The roundabout, which officials say is optional, would also increase the overall price, though removing it could end up costing the city more than moving forward.
Officials have already included the roundabout in a $2.3 million grant application from the Federal Highway Administration that would cover about half of the project. But as the roundabout is the only transport-related part of the proposal, its removal could jeopardize this application.
City Manager Shawn Mulholland pointed out that federal highway funding is the biggest pot of money available for grant work.
“The best chance of getting a grant will be under the federal highway (grant),” Mulholland said. “Streetscape improvements that the Federal Highway won’t care about.
“We don’t have $4.1 million, I can tell you right now,” Mulholland added. “One of our best opportunities is to get that $2.3 million to pay half of it. Hopefully the costs won’t go up more than they already are.
Darren Marcy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-291-4992.