Burlington gets federal environmental approval for the Champlain Parkway

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Burlington gets federal environmental approval for the Champlain Parkway

Fri, 01/21/2022 - 1:42pm -- tim

Burlington Department of Public Works Map. The Home Avenue to Lakeside section construction (BLUE) is slated to begin this year.

Vermont Business Magazine Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger and the City of Burlington Department of Public Works announced that a Record of Decision (ROD) for Champlain Parkway Project has been issued by the Federal Highway Administration on January 20, 2022. The issuance of the ROD signals the completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for environmental clearance. Specifically, the ROD constitutes approval of the Preferred Alternative for this project to provide access between I-189, US Route 7 (Shelburne Street) and the City Center District in Burlington, as described in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) for the project.

Various versions of a South End bypass have been in the works since the 1970s. The Superfund designation of the barge canal site caused a significant re-routing of the bypass and significant pushback by neighbors in the area. Pine Street is already a congested roadway. 

The City stated last September: "As of the date of this letter (September 13, 2021) the total Federal/State/Local taxpayer funding spent on all efforts associated with this project through September 3, 2021, is over $45 million. The construction costs for the project are currently estimated at approximately $37  million."

The Home Avenue to Lakeside section construction (BLUE) is slated to begin this year.

The Record of Decision allows work to move forward on the project, bringing the City closer to improving traffic circulation, alleviating overburdened roadways, and improving vehicular, bike and pedestrian safety in the Southwest section of the City.

“The issuance of the new Record of Decision represents a major project milestone and another big step towards the completion of this multi-decade effort to improve South End transportation options and safety for pedestrians, bikers and drivers,” said Mayor Weinberger. “It is time to get this project built, deliver its benefits to the people of Burlington and the region, and demonstrate that our systems for building new public infrastructure still function.  We are grateful that our state and federal partners listened to local concerns and have issued this ROD in support of a phased project, a critical change that gives the City greatly enhanced ability to coordinate the project with other work and address neighborhood concerns.  I am grateful to the City team of dedicated employees and consultants, led by Director Chapin Spencer and City Engineer Norm Baldwin, that has brought us to the cusp on construction through a decade of skilled, responsive, and persistent effort."

Although the ROD is the final step in completing the environmental clearance process and results in a Selected Alternative, future changes and refinements to the project may still occur.

A digital version of the ROD is available on the project website. Paper copies of the ROD are available at Burlington City Hall, Burlington Department of Public Works and at the Fletcher Free Library.

With the issuance of the ROD, the City of Burlington plans to advertise the bid for the Champlain Parkway Project early February. The City aims to announce the award of contract in March or April, with a goal to begin construction in summer of 2022.

In response to community concerns raised over the last several years, the City has divided the construction of the Champlain Parkway into two phases, and is sequencing work with other projects in the South End through the South End Construction Coordination Plan.  The plan will minimize impacts on the community during construction of the projects and should also eliminate the gap in time between the construction of the Champlain Parkway and the commencement of the Railyard Enterprise Project.  Under the plan, the initial phase of work for the Champlain Parkway is slated for completion in fall 2024.

At the completion of the first phase of construction, project benefits will include:

  • A new 25-mph grid street between Home Avenue and Lakeside Avenue that will enhance connectivity and resiliency of the South End street network
  • A new stormwater pond and new stormwater sand filter that will take 11.5 acres off the combined sewer system and reduce 6,344 pounds (over three tons) of sediment from being discharged into Lake Champlain annually
  • New shared use paths providing roughly two miles of continuous off-road bike/pedestrian path from the Pine Street and Locust Street intersection to Queen City Park Road in South Burlington
  • Improved raised intersections at Pine Street and Kilburn Street, Pine Street and Marble Avenue, and Pine Street and Howard Street
  • A new midblock crosswalk at Pine Street and Arts Riot
  • An enhanced Pine Street with new granite curbs, reconstructed sidewalk with ADA-compliant access ramps on the eastern side, and new top pavement layer with improved surface drainage
  • Undergrounded utilities on Lakeside Avenue between Pine Street and the new portion of the Champlain Parkway

Source: 1.21.2022. Burlington. Office of Mayor Miro Weinberger