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Burlington aims to begin Champlain Parkway this summer

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 11:42 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The city of Burlington is hoping to begin construction this summer on the long-delayed Champlain Parkway project that would link the downtown of Vermont’s largest city to Interstate 189.

The city announced its plan Friday, a day after the Federal Highway Administration issued a record of decision for that project that will allow it to go forward.

What started as a four-lane, high-speed highway is now a two-lane, 25 miles per hour city street that will direct traffic off of 189 through the South End of Burlington and eventually to Pine Street and the heart of downtown.

“Over decades of work across multiple administrations, we’ve finally right-sized this project,” Burlington Public Works Director Chapin Spencer.

The $33 million project will be broken into two phases. The first phase will be between Home Avenue and Kilburn Street and will include a new city street and recreation path between Home and Lakeside Avenues. The second phase connecting to 189 and downtown is still a few years away.

The parkway remains tangled in an environmental lawsuit brought on by the Pine Street Coalition and the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance. A spokesperson for the coalition tells WCAX they are reviewing Friday’s decision and are evaluating their next steps along with the Racial Justice Alliance and the Burlington Innovation Center.

Despite the legal challenges, Spencer says they see a path forward for the project. “This project improves water quality in Lake Champlain; it adds more bike and pedestrian accommodations; more midblock crossings; it undergrounds utilities. This is a project that is ready to be built,” he said.

The city is hoping to secure federal and state funding in the next few weeks and advertise for bids starting next month. If all goes according to plan, shovels would be in the ground next summer.

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