A new project is on the horizon in Burlington designed to detour vehicle traffic off residential streets. This includes streets like Maple, King and Pine Streets allowing potentially more bike and pedestrian routes.
"We really see walk-able communities, a walk-able downtown where people live, work, play within a distance that doesn't require driving in out of town," said Peter Owens, director of community and economic development of the City of Burlington office.
It's not the Champlain Parkway, which has been discussed for decades, but the Railroad Enterprise Project. It's a multi-modal transportation blueprint for the waterfront's southern area. Project managers say it would not only alleviate traffic congestion, but improve the rail yard area on the waterfront.
Thursday night, about 50 residents got a first look at the plan. Some are intrigued, but some skeptical.
One Burlington resident explained, "This is what I've heard, it concerns me greatly." But Christina Erickson, another Burlington resident, remarks, "shifting parking from the downtown areas to outside and getting people in through buses and other mutli-mobil ways of bringing people downtown."
Project managers hope to increase economic development on the waterfront where the rail yard is now. Residents are brainstorming possible solutions and alerting officials what's important to them. With unanswered questions and clear constraints, it's a project with years of planning ahead. "It's a complicated puzzle, but that's what cities are, complicated puzzles, and we'll see how it unfolds," said Owens.
If the project is approved, project managers estimate it will take 4 to 6 years before it's complete. Residents worry about the timeframe and how disruptive this would be. There's no price tag yet. But the city says it expects federal funding to pay for 80 percent of it.