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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Cyclists Cry Boo At Halloween Opening Of Morrisville Bypass To Motor Vehicles Only

Amy Kolb Noyes
Cyclists are upset they won't be allowed to ride on the new Morrisville Bypass when it opens October 31.

After over 40 years of planning, funding delays, re-planning and construction, on Oct. 31 the Morrisville Bypass will open to motor vehicles. The ribbon cutting is planned for noon on Oct. 31, followed by walking tours and, at 2 p.m., a motor vehicle parade. And although they're not allowed, there might be some rogue bike riders along the two-mile route as well.

Credit Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR
Bicycles are among the many things restricted from use on the new truck route around Morrisville village.

As the bypass, which was officially renamed the Alternative Truck Route, nears completion one new sign has gotten a lot of attention. It states pedestrians, hitchhikers, stopping for hitchhikers, animals, bicycles, farm machinery and snow vehicles are all prohibited from using the new roadway. 

The conversation has blown up on Morrisville's online Front Porch Forum. Cyclists are lamenting the ban, saying the bypass is a straight shot with wide shoulders and safer than weaving through the village on Route 100. Others say the road is intended for heavy traffic and not a place for bicycles.

One cyclist and Morrisville resident commented she will put the new rule to the test. "The people want to be heard," she wrote. "Cyclists can try to work bike ridership through peacefully with Vtrans or can just be proactive and use it. I, for one, will be using it when it's the logical route across town. Please let me know if you'd like to join me for an inaugural ride."

Another resident of town, House Speaker Shap Smith, suggested a more by-the-books solution. He posted, "People have expressed concern about access to the alternate truck route. The route was formally designated as limited access years ago. We can work with the State Traffic committee to change the designation and need to work with the select board and Vtrans (to get an assessment of traffic safety implications). I'm willing to work with folks to help make this happen."

The Morrisville Bypass was first put on the books in 1973. October of that year, 41 years ago this month, was the beginning of a national oil crisis which had Americans waiting in lines to purchase increasingly expensive gasoline (55 cents a gallon!). The Oil Crisis resulted in a new generation of fuel efficient cars, a national 55 miles per hour speed limit for better fuel economy, and the transformation of bicycle riding from primarily a recreational activity to a popular mode of transportation.

Update 1:30 p.m. Oct. 27, 2014 The Morristown Select Board has voted to request that the Vermont Agency of Transportation lift the limited access designation for the Morrisville Bypass as it pertains to non-motorized vehicles. The town says the limited access designation was primarily intended to prohibit additional curb cuts on the roadway, and the ban on non-motorized uses was a collateral regulation. Town Administrator Dan Lindley says the final decision is up to the Agency of Transportation's safety board, and the town has no desire to take over the bypass as a town road.

Update9:30 a.m. Oct. 30, 2014 Cyclists and pedestrians will be allowed on the Morrisville Bypass when it opens tomorrow. Vermont Agency of Transportation program manager Kevin Marsha posted the following on Morrisville's Front Porch Forum:

We have heard loud and clear from our customers who feel that bicycles and pedestrians should be allowed on the new Morristown Alternate Truck Route. VTrans, the Regional Planning Commission and the Town all agree and the prohibition will be removed as this road opens to the public on Friday. A final decision about the long-term disposition of the road will be considered by the Traffic Committee when they meet on December 10. We thank everyone who has taken the time to provide thoughtful comments on the issue and we look forward to seeing you at the opening on Friday starting at Noon. We’ll cut a ribbon and start letting cars through at about 2 p.m.

Amy is an award winning journalist who has worked in print and radio in Vermont since 1991. Her first job in professional radio was at WVMX in Stowe, where she worked as News Director and co-host of The Morning Show. She was a VPR contributor from 2006 to 2020.
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