Tuesday, August 11, 2015

City Snookered by State Highway Agency?

Is the Vermont Agency of Transportation Snookering the City on the Champlain Parkway?

Any careful observer of the evolution of the Champlain Parkway since the last full public hearing in the fall of 2006 might guess the latest meager crumbs this year of public information indicates a complete abandonment by the State to any improvements at all along Pine Street and Lakeside Avenue—the project now may be just the “new” roadway from the base of Pine Street with intersections at Home and Flynn Avenues ending at new third signal intersection at Lakeside Avenue.

For nine years the public of Burlington mostly resemble an audience at a long play with the curtain never going up as a number of major changes develop on stage. As a practical matter for the $43 million project there remains no playbill, a simple public document describing what the Parkway is all about in the first place and noting the changes, if any, since 2006. Some involved in Act 250 say there will be a signal at Maple and Pine Streets but how would the public know if that is true?

Earlier this year a strange almost surreal exercise took place at the Burlington Walk Bike Council as attendees were asked to move lines around on Pine Street without being able to move the curblines as one would do if the Parkway project were a re-construction as described in early renderings. The current project in addition to new roadway includes the intersection Lakeside Avenue then existing street to Pine Street, then north on Pine Street to the Maple Street intersection where the Parkway project ends. At least that was the case in 2006. Now, apparently nothing really is involved on either Lakeside or Pine except for rearranging pavement markings.

Some would like for the Parkway project to respond in a meaningful way to further agreed upon aspects of the vision contained in the planBTV South End draft plan recently released. But a Parkway plan—certainly the resources are there—as recently intimated will do nothing of the sort.

Of course from what we know those interested in quality, high safety facilities for all who can walk, bike and travel by vehicle were left out of the 2006 design—yes, there is not an inch, not a penny of walkable or bikable along the route and not a single safe intersection for those traveling by car. Reduce delay for all? No. Energy efficient? No. Minimum pollutant and global warming emissions? No. Any roundabouts?  No.  Any cycle track (protected bike lanes)?  No.

So, the question remains shrouded in mystery behind the curtain out of sight of the public—what is the Champlain Parkway and why have nine years gone by without a plain and simple document that residents can ponder over and discuss? The latest on Pine and Lakeside appears to indicate the Vermont Agency of Transportation has abandoned any consideration of carrying through on investments to benefit the South End along Pine Street and Lakeside Avenue—how sad if true that 98% federal/State funding of those potential benefits have been lost somewhere in goings on behind the curtain. Looks like the City may be snookered by the Agency. Time to raise the curtain? 

1 comment:

  1. Tony, thank you for this critical analysis.
    Time to raise the curtain?