A couple of times recently, I’ve driven through Brandon, which is now emerging from its own four-year ordeal of downtown disruption — leading to a whole new pattern of streets and sidewalks. While I’m sure that this period has been a trial for businesses, residents and those of us who occasionally pass through, the final result is a stunning success.
As I admired Brandon’s new downtown, it occurred to me that something was missing: all the overhead utility poles and lines! As a by-product of reconfiguring and repaving all the downtown streets, Brandon took advantage of this opportunity to place all the utilities underground. What a difference it makes!
The town planning consultants who are now working with Middlebury to help us envision what our town might look like in the future have mentioned burying utilities as one of many ideas. Whichever of their ideas we ultimately decide to adopt, or not, I hope that our planners and selectboard will embrace this one.
Utility lines throughout Middlebury village, at least, could be placed underground gradually over a period of years, as streets come due for repaving — probably at modest additional cost. The result would be far more robust against weather events, downed tree limbs, and the like. And we would all delight in a town free from the utility lines and poles that currently intrude in virtually all our downtown views.