Long, long, long and winding path

It has taken three years to get the Rutland Creek Path almost-approved by the state.

Three years, for the first section of a bicycle / footpath with no opponents and no environmental impact. You can’t make this up.

My understanding is that there have been a couple of minor delays occasioned by city hall, but that most of the wait has been for the state permitting process.

How is that possible, you may ask (I certainly did)? A professional engineering company and an expert on transportation planning in the Rutland Regional Planning Commission office have been walking the project through, step by step, almost from the first.

One story making the rounds is that one set of engineering plans were submitted in person to the office in Montpelier, to avoid any miscommunication. They were pushed back at the engineer for the project and were on the verge of rejection, on the grounds that they were printed “landscape” and the state office likes its plans “portrait” (or portrait and they like them landscape … I’m not sure which, but you get the picture). The engineer turned the plans 90 degrees on the counter and gently pushed them back to the clerk, who grudgingly accepted them.

The organizers aren’t talking about their experience (or not publicly) on the very reasonable grounds that if it takes three years to get permits for the first leg, imagine how long it could take for legs 2 through 5 if the permitting office is mad at them for being rabble rousers, but I just can’t not write about this anymore. It’s insane.

Meanwhile, the expected opening date for the path has come and gone at least once (I think twice but I’m not sure) and while the Creative Economy outdoor rec. committee still hopes to break ground this fall, expect it to be next spring, almost four years into the process, before we can use the first mile of the trail. Mothers who first heard about the path while they were pushing an infant in a stroller now can look forward to riding on it with their kindergarten student.

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