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Road project aimed at easing access to downtown Burlington

Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 4:43 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A construction project aimed at improving traffic flow on Burlington’s Pine Street corridor has the greenlight from the City Council. As our Ike Bendavid reports, the goal is to help make travel to downtown easier and lessen the burden in residential neighborhoods.

Living near the intersection of Pine and Maple streets, Meaghan Lawrence says traffic is an issue around the clock.

“There’s a lot of people honking and yelling at each other all the time, lot of road rage,” she said.

But that would change with a project known as the Railyard Enterprise Project. It would take traffic from Pine Street and connect it to the end of Battery Street going along the edge of the Vermont Rail System railyard, rerouting thousands of cars out of the Maple and King street neighborhood.

“Initially, I would certainly applaud anything that can take the burden of traffic out of a residential area,” said Joerg Klauk of Vermont Wine Merchants.

Vermont Wine Merchants is one of several businesses that have offices near the path of the proposed roadway. Klauck says although they might be hidden, it is a busy area and they would welcome the paved roads and upgrades.

“It’s hidden in the fact, in the sense that people don’t know the level of commercial activity that goes on back here,” Klauck said.

It’s still not clear what the intersection will look like, but Mayor Miro Weinberger says they are looking at three options moving forward.

“It is some years before anyone will be able to stick a shovel in the ground here,” said Weinberger, D-Burlington.

The project currently in the preliminary engineering stages has an early estimate of $18 million to $22 million. The feds are picking up 80% of that and the state and city split the rest of the cost.

The mayor says when complete, it will look and feel like a normal street.

“It’s been years to get to this point and we’ve got years ahead to go,” Weinberger said. “The benefits will be substantial.”

Those benefits include better transportation and economic opportunities, plus happy community members like Meaghan Lawrence.

“It sounds great, honestly,” she said. “Probably reduce a lot of noise in the area.”

This bypass project is separate from the Champlain Parkway Project that will make improvements to traffic flow at the south end of Pine Street. That construction project, previously called the Southern Connector, has been stalled for decades. But the mayor says to expect an update on that project soon.

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