New sidewalks slated for 2013

by Rebecca Salem

Armed with $279,000 in federal funds and $40,000 in town funds, Chester will begin reconstructing  and widening 2,300 feet of downtown sidewalk on the south side of Main Street starting in summer 2013. The project will begin at School Street, run east along Main Street on the Whiting Library side to Maple, turn north past Austin’s Antiques to Depot Street. It will also turn south at Grafton Road, replacing the west sidewalk that runs to the bridge at the middle branch of the Williams River.

Work is expected to take about two months, according to Julie Hance, assistant town clerk.

Click image to enlarge.

Hance added that only those walkways with the most amount of damage are targeted, including those with “uneven sloping, large potholes and cracking” that are hazardous to the town’s older population.

Hance, who wrote the grant proposal presented to the U.S. Agency of Transportation, said the new sidewalks will be safer, almost a foot wider than the current ones and will create more “definition between roadway and sidewalk.”

In the long term, Town Manager David Pisha said, capital funds allocated for annual sidewalk maintenance will be used for future sidewalk repairs between Grafton Road and Green Mountain Union High School. But to widen those sidewalks, the town would first have to obtain easements from landowners.

The 2013 project doesn’t require easements since the sidewalks can be expanded into state rights-of-way, said Hance.

Several years ago, a proposal to create walkways along Church Street failed to go through because the town could not get the required easements from abutting homeowners, said Hance.

“The hope,”she added, “is that all sidewalks will see improvement with time and money.”

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About the Author: Rebecca Salem lives with her family in Chester. She is the director of development for the Windham Child Care Association and will be receiving her MFA from Bennington College in June 2013.

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  1. Suzanne says:

    I would like to correct that there are no sidewalks going to GMUHS. The High School, two neighborhoods and the businesses on this end of town have no sidewalk access until the bridge just before the Route 11 turn. Riding into town on bikes with my children is out of the question until they get a bit older because it becomes too dangerous at times along certain parts of the road with next to no shoulder leaving no room for error. It would be nice if homeowners along 103 would be kind enough to grant access.