New barricades for (old) parkway proposal

Recent rendering of the Champlain Parkway plan. City of Burlington.
BURLINGTON — Just when it seemed the way was clear for construction to begin on the Champlain Parkway — first proposed as the Southern Connector in 1965 — a coalition of citizens has called for a new environmental review of the project. And if the Federal Highway Administration doesn’t respond to the request within 90 days, the coalition says it will file suit in federal court.
Members of the Pine Street Coalition said last week that the most recent project design, completed in 2010, is outdated.
Tony Redington, a coalition leader and former transportation planner, said it fails to accommodate changes that have been made to federal and state highway design laws since then, emphasizing greater safety measures for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
“Failure to re-evaluate the Parkway in light of current knowledge and law about highway safety will, quite simply, costs lives,” he said.
In the time that the 2.3 mile connector — an extension of 1-189 from Shelburne Road to downtown Burlington via Pine Street and through the Maple-King neighborhood — has languished on numerous drawing boards, the south end of Burlington, particularly the Pine Street corridor has undergone substantial change.
Steve Goodkind,a former city Public Works Manager and 2012 mayoral candidate, said there has been insufficient analysis of the impact of the parkway on the revitalized neighborhood, and predicted the roadway would stifle development and innovation.
“We’re asking the government to do an Environmental Impact Statement. It is long overdue and should have been done a long time ago,” Goodkind said.
Mayor Miro Weinberger’s response has been enough already: The project has undergone extensive review, and that his administration has worked particularly hard to accommodate pedestrian and cycle traffic.
In 2012, Weinberger’s first year as mayor, he crafted a compromise plan, with bipartisan support, which he described as “a reasonable multi-model compromise balancing well automobiles, pedestrians, bicyclists and rail,” that would encourage economic development in that region.
“After many years of work and taxpayer expense, permits are in place and it’s time to get the road built,” Weinberger said.
With the project start date at hand, he said, there is no more room for debate or input.
“The City will continue to work towards construction in approximately a year, and will forcefully defend the project against obstructionist attacks that would prolong the current safety and traffic challenges we face on this route,” he said.
Read the story on VTDigger here: New barricades for (old) parkway proposal.