Concern regarding pedestrian and bikers safety crossing I-89 in South Burlington

Published: Sep. 3, 2022 at 9:34 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Many who cross the bridge each day, see cars whooshing past as people cross between South Burlington and Burlington.

“When we tried to cross this street over there I mean we have to be careful watching the cars and not being hit by them,” said Pierre Duchesneau of Montreal.

Tourists like Duchesneau and Charlie Saad, taking extra care when crossing the Williston Road bridge. They are staying at a Burlington hotel and needed to cross the bridge for groceries.

“You know you feel a little bit unsafe crossing the highway so maybe a bridge for a pedestrian would be a better idea,” said Charlie Saad.

That’s exactly what the city of South Burlington is planning. They’re in the process of gathering community input on the type of bridges that could be built just south of the interchange over I-89.

“We want people to use it so it’s important for us to hear from people that may be using it or talking to other people about it that it feels comfortable and attractive to people and that will make the project a success,” said Ilona Blanchard, South Burlington Community Development Director.

This week the city unveiled three ideas for the bridge. One called the Modern Bridge. Another they’re dubbing the ‘Vermonty Bridge’ designed to look like a covered bridge. And a third, a land bridge with many natural aspects. Last year the project was awarded a 9.7 million dollar grant from the federal government, which will cover around 66 percent of the total bill, the rest will be money that needs to be voted on by taxpayers. Currently pedestrians need to navigate 4 on and off ramps and traffic to cross.

For the students that traverse the bridge weekly to shop in South Burlington, they’re grateful for the potential of being separated from the road.

“When there’s no public transportation I have to cross this bridge, it’s just too much, the cars, it’s just kind of intense I hate it,” said UVM student Ali Aliyev.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time but it’s sometimes pretty hard there’s people walking I have to get out of their way and if I have to go in the road it’s busy there so I think it’s a great idea they’re building a new pedestrian bridge,” said Jacob Murphy, a Champlain College student.

Organizers are still looking for input on the design from citizens and are planning to present the final design to city council this November, and if approved, it will be heading to the ballot in March.