Champlain Parkway construction could begin this year

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BURLINGTON, Vt. A major construction plan in Burlington has been in the works for nearly 60 years. The mayor of Burlington said he hopes construction on the Champlain Parkway will start as soon as this year.

Wendy Stiles has been hearing about the Champlain Parkway ever since she moved into a house in Burlington, back when it was known as the Southern Connector.

"I'm still on the fence about it," Stiles said.

The construction of a new cul de sac would take down a pine tree she planted, part of her driveway, and some landscaping. Stiles has some concerns about disruption from construction and noise from a new roadway.

"Things are pretty nice and peaceful in this neighborhood. I don't know how it would change things," Stiles said.

Mayor Miro Weinberger said the project will ultimately benefit people like Stiles.

"Champlain Parkway will be good for Ferguson Avenue and a number of the other streets there, that right now, see a lot of cut through traffic, people trying to get from Pine Street to Shelburne Road," Weinberger said.

Not everyone is on board with the plans. A group of residents is fighting against the design. The Pine Street Coalition sent a letter to Governor Phil Scott last month, urging him to reconsider.

"Every day that goes by, this project becomes more stale, more invalid and more obsolete," Pine Street Coalition Coordinator Tony Redington said.

The group has a host of concerns. It wants to see a roundabout built at the corner of Maple and Pine instead of a traffic light. The coalition also wants a new environmental impact study. The last one was done in 2009.

"Which would mean a new plan and a redesign of what is really a hurtful, $43 million dollar project," Redington said.

The Pine Street Coalition said laws and the community have changed a lot since 2009. The group hopes an ongoing lawsuit will force city leaders to re-evaluate.