Will construction for the Champlain Parkway finally begin?

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Will construction for the Champlain Parkway finally begin? The Burlington mayor says we are closer than ever to finally seeing change.

It's been a hot topic in Burlington since the 1960s.

“It originally started off as a four-lane divided highway,” said Chapin Spencer, the Public Works Director. “It's now a two-lane, 25 mph road."

The Public Works Department says the Champlain Parkway design is finally ready.

The project, which used to be called the Southern Connector, goes from I-189 to Main Street. Planners say new roadways will be built, including a street from Home Avenue to Lakeside Avenue. Other areas, like Pine Street, will be renovated.

"If this is good for the city and for communication, that's fine with me,” said Enver Sehovic, who lives near the proposed project.

The Champlain Parkway has faced what may have seemed like endless roadblocks, including a fight in environmental court.

City officials say they hope to begin construction in late 2018 or early 2019. But, we've been told we're two years away many times before, so WCAX asked Mayor Miro Weinberger if it was really happening.

“We are closer than the city has ever been to starting construction in its 60 year history, and yes, it is going to happen,” said Weinberger.

Thursday, South End residents got answers about the 30 million dollar plans, mostly paid for by the federal government. "If this project doesn't advance and get built as designed here, that they will ask us for the money back,” said Chapin.

Thea Lewis has been following the project since she moved to the Queen City in 2003. She says she's more optimistic about it than she has ever been, but admits traffic is a concern.

“We have a railroad project that's pretty close to the house and lots of times, we have trucks and cars that will get backed up,” said Lewis.

The road that connects to I-189 was built decades ago, but hasn't been put to use. It hasn't been maintained either.

"I'm against the current design," said Ibnar Stratibus, a Burlington resident who cycles in the area. "I'd like to see protected bike lanes and roundabouts instead of traffic lights.”

Many have expressed concerns about traffic funneling down to Pine Street, especially at the Maple Street intersection. The mayor says switching out stop signs for stoplights will actually improve the flow of vehicles. Weinberger also tells us the city is looking into other options.

"We've started an entirely new federal project known as the Railroad Enterprise Project that would revive this idea of connecting directly Pine Street to Battery Street,” said Weinberger.

Public Works says the goal is to create easier access downtown.