Signing the LOOP
Recent article about the Upper Valley LOOP Trail focuses on need for safer bike and pedestrian options in the Upper Valley.
While the recently signed on-road “Upper Valley Bike LOOP” route provides the safest option available for traveling by bicycle between Norwich, Hartford, Lebanon and Hanover, there are many areas where improvements would be welcomed by pedestrians and riders. Last years widening of road shoulders along Route 5 have made it much safer for adults to travel by bicycle between Norwich and Hartford, however, more off-road improvements would help families find viable safe options to travel without having to rely on cars. The Wilder Multi-use Path, considered an alternate off-road LOOP Trail section paralleling Route 5, is a good example of how a path that is separated from the road will attract regular use by many types of trail users – parents pushing strollers, riders going to and from school or their homes, runners heading out to stay fit, and more. As new housing is being completed and occupied on Mount Support Road in Lebanon, those residents will be looking for better options to travel to nearby workplaces such as DHMC, Centerra Plaza, and downtown Lebanon – a proposed off-road path will be a wonderful improvement for that portion of the LOOP Trail. Maybe it is also time to consider the values of installing a bike and pedestrian bridge as a transportation spur between Mount Support Road near David’s House across Route 120 to Centerra Plaza? Maybe buses could even use this new bridge? The tough part in all this planning and implementation is balancing costs and needs of the community and the reality that much of the land needed to improve the system is held privately - negotiations, agreements, and, land purchases (where necessary), take time and money.
The Upper Valley Trails Alliance continues to work with area Bike and Pedestrian Committees, trail organizations, and trail advocates to design and complete many trail improvements. A mix of earth paths, packed gravel-surfaced trails, on-road or off-road bike lanes, and Multi-use paths, combined with sidewalks, Park and Rides, and bus routes, will result in the most cost effective means to create an inter-connected Upper Valley Transportation and Recreation Network that meets everyones needs.
What sections of the LOOP Trail need attention and why?