T he Stone Valley byway, running along Route 30 from Hubbardton to Manchester, will be getting upgrades to facilities for cyclists and hikers.
The upgrades are available because the byway just won a federal enhancement grant of $81,920. Part of the money will go toward new signs, picnic tables and rest areas, with the rest going toward a study of the feasibility of improving the route for nonmotorized travel.
Susan Schreibman, acting director of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, whose office wrote the grant application, said the study will look at bike-friendly detours, particularly along the area from Wells north, where the land is more hilly and so visibility is more restricted.
The route is already popular with tours from Bike Vermont and biking clubs from Killington/Pico and Manchester. Schreibman said that if the study recommends road work, getting it done would be some years in the future, so finding detours makes sense.
On the other hand, the signage should be ready by next year. The new signs are designed to tell visitors about the history and character of communities along the byway. They are enamel panels fixed to local stone — either marble or slate, depending where the signs are placed. The planners have gotten donations or stone slabs from every town along the route, Schreibman said, and there is a request for proposals out to have them manufactured. The panels were created by Heidi Humphrey of Dot Four design in Shaftsbury.
In addition, planners are finding locations to put the panels, ideally with room for picnic tables, so visitors can, in Schreibman’s words, “Read, learn and relax” while taking a break from the road. Among the sites confirmed are the village green in Wells and at Crystal Beach in Castleton.
The grant is part of $3.1 million in federal transportation funding for the state announced by Rep. Peter Welch and Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders on Friday.