Final Plan!

We have finally wrapped up the MRV Moves Final Document with a pretty little bow – just in time for the holidays!

The final plan and all associated maps and graphics are available for download at https://mrvmoves.org/project-documents.

Highlights of the plan findings and recommendations include:

  • The MRV Moves Community Survey indicated there is strong support for the expansion of active transportation facilities in the Valley, with an off road path along RT 100/Mad River/Valley Floor being the most desired new facility.
  • Trails and active transportation facilities are important community amenities that help to spur economic development. The economic benefits of just three small portions of the MRV trail system—the Blueberry Lake Trails, the Revolution Trail, and the Waitsfield Village Path—have been found to be very significant to the Washington County economy, and these represent just a fraction of the region’s trail assets. Spending associated with the Blueberry Lake trail system alone is estimated to contribute approximately $1.8 million to the Washington County economy each year, generating approximately $320,000 in federal, state, and local taxes and supporting approximately 22 jobs. Spending associated with the Revolution Trail is estimated to contribute approximately $1 million to the Washington County economy each year, generating approximately $182,000 in federal, state, and local taxes and supporting approximately 13 jobs. Even as an incomplete path, the Waitsfield Village Path is estimated to contribute approximately $640,000 to the Washington County economy each year, generating approximately $112,000 in federal, state, and local taxes and supporting approximately 8 jobs.
  • Key components of the MRV Moves active transportation system include:
    • Accessibility (all ages and abilities system, parking, signage, convenient and “close to home” opportunities)
    • Diversity (surfaces, ability, user groups, activities)
    • Sustainability (environmental stewardship, ecological and community resilience, long-lasting active transportation system, flood resilience, erosion control, minimal maintenance)
    • Connectivity (within and between village centers, to major destinations and recreation areas, to other trails, to neighborhoods, to hotels and lodging)
    • Safety (improvement of high risk zones, separation between users and motor vehicles where needed, trail and facility design standards for safety)
  • The MRV Moves Active Transportation system includes 5 primary connections types that have been identified in the plan maps and graphics:
    • Major Off-Road Connections
    • Major On-Road Connections
    • Minor Off-Road Connections
    • Minor On-Road Connections
    • Sidewalk/Crosswalks
  • In addition to identified connections, the MRV Moves Active Transportation Plan also includes recommendations in the following areas:
    • Village Centers (Streetscape Improvements, Complete Streets, Active Transportation Tourism and Bike/Ped Friendly Communities, Local Control of State Highways in Village Centers)
    • Education and outreach opportunities for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and dog owners
    • Designation of the active transportation system with a unified signage and wayfinding system, consistent mapping and branding.
    • Policies for municipalities and other partners to consider.
    • Regulatory and environmental compliance
    • Regional coordination
    • Funding opportunities
    • Implementation and action plans

Thanks and have a joyous holiday season!

Final Plan Presentation

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Waitsfield Elementary School for the final plan presentation last Thursday (October 20)!

The presentation covered the year-long community process to develop the plan, which envisions a consistent, cohesive and connected regional system of trails, roads and sidewalks in the Valley. After the presentation and discussion, excitement for the future of walking and bicycling in the Valley was high among the 30 residents who attended as they milled around stations of maps and survey results.

Check out the final plan presentation and final maps we presented by clicking the links below!

MRV Moves Final Plan Presentation

MRV Moves Final Maps and Connection Types

Final Plan Presentation Thursday, October 20 at 7 PM

It has been a year in the making, but we are finally nearing the end of the MRV Moves planning process! After analyzing the current conditions and environmental constraints in the Valley, updating trail counts, creating economic impact projections, conducting a community survey, attending a series of community events, holding two public workshops, and convening numerous stakeholder and Advisory Committee meetings we have arrived at the final plan for active transportation in the Mad River Valley.

The final plan envisions a consistent, cohesive and connected regional system of trails, roads and sidewalks that provide a range of transportation options and recreational experiences for diverse user groups in the MRV, all while connecting users to the natural landscape and respecting the resources that make the Valley so special.

Come hear about the final plan, the findings, and the recommendations for implementation on Thursday, October 20 at 7 PM. The presentation will take place as part of the Mad River Valley Planning District Steering Committee Meeting at the Waitsfield Elementary School. Don’t miss it and tell all your friends!

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Enjoy National Trails Day on Saturday June 4th by celebrating local trail successes and helping to plan for new ones!

Public Workshop Flyer_OPTCome celebrate National Trails Day on Saturday June 4th with a hike or bike ride to help plan for a network of new trails and bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the Mad River Valley! After exploring existing and proposed trail connections in one of the tours, party down & cool off with ice cream from our generous sponsors, the Sweet Spot and the Village Grocery!

This celebration of all things trails and active transportation will include: updates on on-going trail work from the Mad River Path and Mad River Riders, a hiking/walking tour of the Mad River Path and Waitsfield Village, an off-road bike tour (bring your own mountain bike), and an on-road bike tour (bring your own bike). Meet at the General Wait House at 1 pm for the tours. We will round out the festivities with an ice cream social at 3:15 pm at the General Wait House.

The walking and bicycle tours will engage the community about the MRV Moves Active Transportation Plan that is currently underway in the valley, providing information on the envisioned network and documenting the thoughts and preferences of the public. The MRV Moves Plan is being undertaken by the Mad River Planning District (MRVPD) to articulate a unified, multi-town, watershed-wide vision for cohesive network of recreational trails and non-motorized transportation facilities, how they integrate with economic development, enhance visitor experiences, enhance residents’ quality of life, and improve transportation choices. The project, which included a series of public meetings, a community survey, and an engaged Advisory Committee, is nearing completion with the proposed network first shared with the public at a meeting in Waitsfield on February 11th.

Event Schedule:

  • Updates on on-going trail work
    • Mad River Riders – Lareau Farm @ 10 am
    • Mad River Path Association – Gen. Wait House @ 1 pm
  • Walking & Bicycle Tours – leave the Gen. Wait House @ 1:30 pm
  • Ice Cream Social – General Wait House @ 3:15 pm

Join us for all or part of the day, but don’t miss out on the free ice cream!!

Public Workshop Was A Huge Success!

Feb11_1The MRV Moves Active Transportation Plan had a public meeting and open house in Waitsfield on Wednesday February 11th to get community input on moving around in the Mad River Valley. Over 35 community members attended the meeting, engaging in thoughtful discussions around the plan and lots of great feedback and input was provided.

The meeting began with a brief discussion of what active transportation means in the Mad River Valley. Planning for active transportation means providing for safe and convenient opportunities for physically active travel regardless of where it happens, but as we heard at the public meeting active transportation opportunities in the Mad River Valley are very different from those in more urban locations. For example, a multi-use path in Burlington would not look the same as it would in the MRV. Some paths in Burlington are great for getting around, but may not be very nice for recreation, while it would be impossible to build any transportation path here in the Mad River Valley without it also providing a beautiful, scenic recreational experience. It is with this understanding that the MRV Moves plan envisions a connected regional system of trails, sidewalks and routes that reflect the unique history, culture and character that makes the valley such a special place.

Feb11_5The Mad River Valley is blessed with a myriad of non-profit and government agencies working on trails and active transportation, such as the Mad River Path and the Mad River Riders, and the MRV Moves Active Transportation Plan seeks to build upon the decades of projects of these organizations while establishing a watershed-wide long-range vision for the Valley.  The plan does not direct what these organizations are working on, but rather supports all of their efforts and provides a cohesive and collaborative framework to realize the overall vison. The primary product of the plan is a map of important connections and routes in the Mad River Valley, but the plan will also provide guidance for trail design and management, implementation, funding, permitting and approvals to carry the project into reality.

The MRV Moves Active Transportation Plan is supported by an engaged and active Advisory Committee that includes representatives from the MRV Chamber of Commerce, the MRV Rotary the Towns of Waitsfield, Warren, Fayston and Moretown, the Mad River Path Association, the Mad River Riders, the Mad River Planning District, the VT Agency of Transportation, the VT Agency of Commerce & Community Development, the Vermont Land Trust, Sugarbush Resort, and the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission. The planning team has also engaged the community by tabling at the Waitsfield Farmer’s Market and the Sugarbush Community Day as well as attending the Mad River Planning District Town Leadership Meeting and Vision and Vitality Meetings. A project website, at www.mrvmoves.org, was also created as information portal for the project.

Feb11_4A survey was also distributed throughout the valley to gauge the preferences and priorities of the community. The survey received over 350 responses, primarily from locals, but also from visitors and second-home owners. Unsurprisingly, the survey found that the Mad River Valley is extremely active. People in the Mad River Valley walk, hike and bike at more than twice the national rates, but the amount that walk or bike to commute is relatively low at less than 5 percent. When asked about what prevented them from walking or biking to work or recreation a number of barriers were repeatedly mentioned by survey participants. Safety, concerns about traveling along Route 100 or other “dangerous roads,” and traveling with children were among the top of these barriers, as were physical considerations such as hills and distance. Question after question indicated survey respondents were concerned about safety along roadways, but felt much more comfortable about trails and off road options. When asked how we can best improve conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians, survey respondents indicated “Adding a trail, bikeway or sidewalk to close a critical gap” was the best way, followed by education and improving safety. The three most commonly identified gaps (along Route 100, along the Mad River, and connecting the villages) were in effect all the referring to the same gap: an off-road connection in the valley floor. Route 17 and other in-village locations were also identified as critical gaps by numerous respondents.  Finally, the survey results demonstrated that walk and bikeability were important to visitors and second-homeowners in the valley as well as its residents. 78 percent of visitors reported “the availability of recreation trails and opportunities to hike, bike, walk, ski and snowshoe” was important for their decision to visit the MRV, and 34 percent reported Active Transportation as the deciding factor to visit the Valley.

Using this survey data, as well as all the other input from the Advisory Committee and the community, the planning team went to work analyzing the existing conditions in the Valley. Among other considerations, the planning team analyzed municipal boundaries and political realities, wetlands and waterbodies, the Mad River and its floodplain, slope and terrain, wildlife habitat and corridors, existing road and traffic conditions, existing trails, and important destinations to generate a conceptual map of future connections that are important for the Mad River Valley – aptly named the Future Opportunities Map.

Feb11_6The Future Opportunities Map was presented at the public meeting and the four primary connection types were explained: 1) Major On-Road Connections, 2) Major Off-Road Connections, 3) Minor On-Road Connections, and 4) Unpaved Minor Connections. Major On-Road Connections refers to areas of improvement along the major state highways in the watershed: Routes 100, 100b, and 17. Improvements to these connections may include bike lanes, paved shoulders, shared lane markings (sharrows and signage), and sidewalks. The Major Off Road Connections refer to an off road path that generally follows the routes of these major transportation corridors in the watershed, but provides an off road option for connecting the village centers, schools, and important recreation areas in the Valley. The importance of this off road connectivity was mentioned repeatedly by the public in the community survey, and serves to provide a transportation option for all ages and abilities who might not feel comfortable traveling along the state highways on foot or by bike. The connection type could be an unpaved, graded path (like a typical rail trail) or a paved multi-use path. Minor On-Road Connections are found along existing roads, primarily in the valley floor, and include paved shoulders, shared lane markings (sharrows and signage), sidewalks and signed routes. For signed routes, the only “improvement” required is the addition of a few signs and the routes’ formal inclusion into the bike and pedestrian network on maps and in policy. Finally, Minor Unpaved Connections were identified to provide access to public lands and recreation areas, and to meet more minor connectivity goals. These may occur along existing roadways in the form of a signed route, or may include soft surface trails such as mountain biking, hiking, or equestrian trails.

Feb11_2The Future Opportunities Map along with a “Connection Typologies” document that explains each connection type are available for public review on the documents page, as are all the materials presented at the public meeting. Community members are encouraged to review the presented materials and provide comments at the Project Website. Another public workshop is scheduled for May 5, so participants can explore the concepts “on-the-ground.” The presentation of the final plan to the community is scheduled for July 21, 2016. Hope to see you out there moving around in the MRV!

Public Open House and Workshop February 11 at 6 pm!

Public Meeting FlyerWe will be holding a Public Open House and Workshop on February 11 at 6 pm!  All walkers, bikers and hikers in the MRV are invited to discuss how to improve sidewalks, trails, crosswalks, and bicycle facilities! This gathering is an opportunity to see draft active transportation recommendations for the community and provide feedback. The meeting will be held at the Waitsfield United Church of Christ Village Meeting House (4355 Main Street).

The planning process for the MRV Moves Plan began in the fall of 2015. Early in the process the planning team distributed postcards around the valley, set up booths at the Waitsfield Farmer’s Market and Sugarbush Community Day, and worked with partner organizations to spread the word about our process and the project website (www.mrvmoves.org). The planning team also distributed a public survey, which received over 350 responses – 87% from locals, 10% from second homeowners, and 3% from visitors to the MRV. Stakeholder meetings with the US Forest Service, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, the VT Agency of Transportation, the VT Agency of Commerce & Community Development, the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, and the Natural Resources Board District Commission have been conducted. The planning team has also had regular check-ins with the Advisory Committee for the Project, which includes representatives from the MRV Chamber of Commerce, the MRV Rotary, the Mad River Path Association, the Mad River Riders, the VT Land Trust, Sugarbush Resort, The Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, the Mad River Valley Planning District, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development, and the Towns of Waitsfield, Warren, Fayston, and Moretown.

Through this process, existing conditions and community desires have been analyzed to fully understand the opportunities and constraints for active transportation in the Mad River Valley. With this understanding, the planning team and the Advisory Committee have developed conceptual plans that illustrate creative responses for reaching the community’s vision and addressing the identified opportunities and constraints. These concepts do the following:

  • Create a complete active transportation system that allows for non-motorized travel throughout the Mad River Valley;
  • Provide access to important origins and destinations;
  • Expand mobility and increase safety of users;
  • Enhance the traveling experience of motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists or transit users;
  • Enhance stormwater collection and treatment and address opportunities for mitigating potential impacts to natural resources,
  • Incorporate traffic calming measures as needed and appropriate, based on existing speed data;
  • Promote connections between the village centers;
  • Provide year round facilities for active transportation; and
  • Incorporate recreational access, visitor accommodation and tourism objectives into the broader transportation network.

The Mad River Planning District and the MRV Moves Advisory Committee invite all to attend the public open house and workshop to tell us your thoughts on these concepts!

 

 

MRV Moves Advisory Committee Charette

The MRV Moves Advisory Committee got together with the consultant team for a planning charette focused on generating new alternatives and ideas for the Active Transportation Network in the Mad River Valley. During the charette, we reviewed the survey results and existing conditions information, and had a group discussion and mapping exercise around the following core areas of the plan: 1) Trails and Multi-Use Paths, 2) On-Road Facilities and Sidewalks, 3) Village Centers, 4) Safe Routes to School, and 5) Wayfinding.

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This input, along with the results of the community survey and our other community engagement initiatives, will allow the consultant team to develop draft alternatives that will be further reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Jan 28th and by the public at our next public meeting on February 11th.

While in the Mad River Valley, representatives from SE Group were also able to give a presentation of the MRV Moves Plan, its goals and status at the Mad River Valley Town Leadership Meeting.