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Shumlin unveils plans to fix Chittenden County traffic troubles - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shumlin unveils plans to fix Chittenden County traffic troubles

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Vermont Route 289 represents 3 miles of an originally-planned 16-mile loop surrounding Burlington. Planners hoped the full highway would ease traffic on local roads throughout Chittenden County. Four governors have held ground-breaking ceremonies since the late-1980s, but legal challenges stymied further expansion.

"I'm not going to do that then, let's take a different approach," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

Tuesday, Shumlin announced approval for a third package of smaller, alternative projects. More than 34 are planned and expected to cost $100 million-- half the price of continuing to pursue the Circ.

Crews are already gearing up for five projects, 19 are more than 10 years down the road.

"We need to reduce congestion, we need to have cleaner air, we need to have a brighter future. So, I can't tell you how excited I am about the projects we're about to unveil," Shumlin said.

The proposals include new roads, upgraded intersections and increased bus service.

The Crescent Connector should be completed within the next five years and link Vt. 2A with Vt. 117 at a price of $3 million.

Another $5 million worth of upgrades are planned for exit 16.

"We all know that the big road projects are the glamour shots of the Circ alternative," said Rep. Linda Myers, R-Essex.

Myers says the small projects are just as important.

Environmental advocates say the array of moves represents progress.

"This process reflects a new era in transportation planning in Vermont, the end of the era of oversized, expensive highway projects," said Brian Shupe of VNRC.

Planners look forward to congestion relief.

"If folks have any question about the need, I invite you to stop by on Friday after Thanksgiving and drive down Route 2A and see how it works out for you," said Chris Roy of the Regional Planning Commission.

The changes won't be implemented in time for the holiday, but shoppers and travelers can be thankful that a solution is finally moving forward.

Click here for a more thorough description of what's in the works from the CIRC Highway Alternatives Task Force website.

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