Burlington Free Press - The Champlain Parkway project has taken another big step toward becoming a reality.
The city of Burlington has crafted a settlement with a persistent critic of the proposed Champlain Parkway, removing an obstacle to the much-delayed connector between Interstate 189 and downtown Burlington.
Allan Hunt, a neighborhood activist who appealed the Parkway construction permit in state Environmental Court, agreed to drop his opposition in exchange for the city’s promise to try to reduce the impact of new traffic dumping onto the lower Maple and King Street neighborhood where he lives.
“I am very pleased with this settlement,” Hunt said in a statement issued Tuesday by City Hall. “The Mayor and his team deserve a great deal of credit for finding meaningful ways to mitigate the impacts of the Parkway on our neighborhood.”
The deal was finalized Monday and calls for the city to sponsor a proposal to remove Maple Street as a designated truck route within 90 days of when the Parkway is constructed and opened to traffic.
The city also would improve sidewalks, crosswalks and flashing beacons in the corridor and use standard red-brick crosswalk designs at the intersection of Maple and Pine streets and King and Pine streets.
The city also agreed “in concept” to signs from I-189 that might not direct drivers to downtown via the new route. “When the Champlain Parkway signage plans are being developed in detail, the City will indicate to VTrans that the City supports I-189 westbound way-finding signs for the Parkway and Shelburne Street exits that are silent as to ‘downtown,’” the agreement reads.
The city would commit to a neighborhood enhancement program for the Maple and King street area upon receipt of a petition from at least 100 residents.
Hunt, who lives on Maple Street, agreed to drop his appeal of the state environmental Act 250 permit and drop any opposition to the Parkway’s going forward.
The Parkway would connect an orphaned dead-end section of highway that has sat idle for decades as the project hit environmental issues, funding problems and opposition from neighbors who said it would just move traffic rather than reduce it.
The road is designed to better connect the interstate at the southern gateway to downtown Burlington. The new road would run from I-189 to Lakeside Avenue, then to an improved Pine Street corridor and on to Main Street in downtown, running past Maple and King, among other intersecting streets.
New sidewalks, a shared-use path on the west side of Pine and new lighting and street trees are part of the project.
“This settlement is another major step toward building the long-delayed Champlain Parkway,” Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said in a statement. “I would like to thank Allan Hunt for his efforts working with our City team to craft an amicable resolution that advances sound urban development and livable city principles to guide the future of his neighborhood.”
There’s no construction date on the Parkway because other appeals are pending, said Chris Cole, director of policy, planning and intermodal development at the Vermont Agency of Transportation. The appeals will not stop the Parkway, he predicted. “If they were successful in the appeals they would only require changes in the project, not stopping the project.”