Vermont town constructs its first sidewalk, kicked off with Walk to School Day

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It’s something you probably take for granted, but believe it or not there have been no sidewalks in Highgate, Vermont dating back to when the town was established in 1763.

It took 254 years for the Highgate to open its first sidewalk officially on December 1, 2017. 

“You know it was just a town without anything for sidewalks,” Steven LaFar said.

LaFar is a selectboard member and grandfather of two school kids. He watched as buses dropped kids off at Saint Louis Church less than a half mile away from the elementary school. Children then walked the rest of the way on the new sidewalks to commemorate its opening. The event was deemed “Walk to School Day”.

Heidi Britch-Valenta, the Town Administrator, said this construction has been in the works for years.

Design plans for the sidewalk from the church on Lamkin Street up to the crosswalk on Route 78 have been drawn up since 2007. Town officials said the plans got picked back up in 2012 before a grant from Vtrans was secured in 2013. The grant paved the way with $250,000. About 60,000 more tax payer dollars funded its construction that started in August.

In addition to sidewalks, flashing crosswalk signals were installed. Some parents, like Randy Connelly, said the lights offer relief.

“You can’t really leave your kids to walk to the streets of Route 78 right now because of the traffic and now they can actually cross the roads with the crosswalks and the flashers,” Connelly said.

Britch-Valenta said the area was chosen due to its potential for development and speed of traffic on the road. Being a busy road, LaFar said drivers will need to pay close attention to the changes.

“It takes a lot for communities to get used to things that weren’t there before,” LaFar said.

It is Vermont law to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

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