Big upgrades begin at the Burlington Waterfront - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Big upgrades begin at the Burlington Waterfront

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After years of debate, the Waterfront Access North project is moving forward. Tuesday, a groundbreaking marked the beginning of the redevelopment project. Mayor Miro Weinberger was joined by Senator Patrick Leahy and other city and state officials to break ground on the largest investment on the waterfront since the 1990s. It's just one part of multiple projects to revitalize Burlington.

It's a move to improve Burlington's waterfront visually and create a functional place for locals and visitors.

"The project is going to realign, widen and rebuild the decayed and disjointed part of the bike path right behind you. It is going to create a new, world-class skate park," Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington.

They say the project will also allow power lines in the area to run underground and put stormwater measures in place to protect Lake Champlain. The total cost for the Northern Waterfront project is $9.1 million. Nearly $4 million of that comes from tax increment financing funds, about $300,000 is from Burlington taxpayers, another $4 million is federal funds.

"We can get all the federal money in the world but if the community doesn't get together and work it's not worth it," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

The redevelopment of the bike path alone will cost roughly $3 million.

"We're still waiting to get the bids back and then make a selection, but our expectation is to be in construction with that section once we get through the busy summer season here," Weinberger said.

The plan is to complete construction on the bike path from the Northern Waterfront construction site up to North Beach by next year, with the rest of the plan done by the end of 2015.

"It's going to create the access necessary for redevelopment of the Moran building and will make possible the expansion of the Burlington harbor facilities," Weinberger said.

Future projects also include a new Community Sailing Center facility and the Burlington Harbor Marina, developments aiming to improve quality of life and the local economy. And it's just a part of the development taking off in Burlington. The Champlain Parkway, which used to be called the Southern Connector, last week got the green light in environment court.

"We have the patience and the persistence to stick with a project and get it done. There's going to need to be more of that before the Champlain Parkway construction starts. We have a couple years at least before we have a groundbreaking down there," Weinberger said.

Construction on the Waterfront Access North Project will begin immediately. With plans to shut down during the winter, the city hopes to stay on schedule to have construction completed late next year.

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