Champlain Parkway work elicits mixed reaction from neighbors
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Nearly a month after a federal judge granted the city of Burlington clearance to begin construction on the Champlain Parkway project, phase one of the decades-long effort is finally underway.
Construction crews have already cleared a large portion of trees between Home Avenue and Kilburn Street and city officials say they are ready to make more progress in the coming years.
“We’ve had a number of years to get ready for this day and things in the construction phase so far are going smoothly,” said Burlington Public Works Director Chapin Spencer. “The work that’s underway right now is clearing and grubbing, working on the stormwater features to protect our environment, and then working on some subterranean sub-base work as we move towards constructing these new corridors.”
Spencer says in just a short amount of time, the parkway that will connect I-189 to downtown Burlington has already started taking shape.
For David Putnam, the general manager at Petra Cliffs, the start of construction brings some concerns. His business is located directly across from the work. “I think for the next few years while they’re in this process, there is that concern of traffic problems and stuff,” Putnam said.
The project will create a two-lane city street with a 25 mph speed limit and stop lights at each intersection. They’ll also create sidewalks and bike lanes.
Marie Boisvert lives along the future parkway and says she’s concerned about overall traffic safety. “I think it’s going to be a freeway. I don’t think it’s going to be a 25. I can’t picture anyone going 25 even between intersections,” she said.
Putnam says upon completion of the project will also hopefully bring benefits. “Having the parkway coming down through here will open up people seeing our business from the parkway, it will make it easier for people to get to us,” he said.
In the short term, Spencer says phase one will focus only on the area between Home and Lakeside Avenues, while other construction projects in the city take shape. “To coordinate with the Shelburne Street roundabout, we’re staying off Pine Street this year to allow north-south traffic to flow more smoothly. Next year, in 2023 and 2024, we’ll be more on Pine Street and Lakeside Avenue,” he said.
All of this work is happening while a motion to stop the project completely awaits its day in federal court later next month. Spencer says the city is confident they’ll be able to move past any future roadblocks.
If all continues moving forward, the parkway should be completed in about four years.
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