By Brett Yates
On Feb. 16, the Rutland City Board of Aldermen voted to support a pedestrian infrastructure improvement project that the Department of Public Works (DPW) hopes will ensure students at Northwest Primary School can walk to school safely next fall.
The plan, which aims to replace 1,350 linear feet of deteriorated asphalt, targets the degraded sidewalks of Pierpoint Avenue, whose northern end, in front of the school, represents a particular danger due to a paved-over grass belt.
“There’s no clear delineation of where the sidewalk is and where the edge of the road is,” Interim Commissioner of Public Works James Rotondo pointed out.
The concrete sidewalks begin in front of the school and continue around the corner onto Crescent St., meeting the existing sidewalk at the crosswalk near Earl Street.
The new sidewalk will be 5 feet wide with concrete curbs and a grass strip. Green space will establish “a safe separation distance between cars and pedestrians.”
The project also intends to facilitate access to nearby amenities like Pine Hill Park, the Giorgetti Athletic Complex, and especially the Rutland Creek Path, which begins at the foot of Earl Street. “I think that’s a great improvement to that neighborhood,” said Alderman Bill Gillam.
Last year, when DPW repaved Crescent Street, Rotondo was reminded of adjacent Pierpoint Avenue’s needs: “This seemed like a logical extension.”
Then, in early 2021, the Vermont Agency of Transportation began to solicit grant applications for small-scale projects through its bicycle and pedestrian program, which for selected recipients will reimburse municipal construction costs up to $75,000. The opportunity solidified the city’s commitment to improving the area around Northwest Primary School as soon as possible.
If the state grant comes through, funds from a $5 million bond for street and sidewalk repairs, approved by Rutland City voters in 2020, will cover the other half of the $150,000.
“Right now, we’re in the process of finalizing sidewalk segments we plan to install this construction season, and receipt of the grant will stretch the sidewalk funds we have available,” Rotondo explained.