City officials: Completion of Champlain Parkway 'never been closer'

Published: Sep. 26, 2019 at 8:28 AM EDT
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Burlington city officials Thursday said the completion of the Champlain Parkway project has "never been closer," but opponents of the decades-long proposal are vowing to fight on.

Can the Champlain Parkway Project finally the get the green light after years of delays? Burlington city officials provided an update on the project at a public meeting Thursday.

The idea started in the '60s as a way to improve traffic through the South End to downtown. Construction started in the '80s on what was then known as the Southern Connector but never finished.

Director of Public Works Chapin Spencer says the city has cleared some milestones for the $40 million parkway project. He says the goal is to improve access to downtown, and it's different than the original plan from past generations.

"It's remarkably different than several decades ago," Chapin said.

There is still a pending lawsuit from concerned residents who want the project thrown out, but the city is not concerned.

"We are working to manage the legal risks as quickly as we can," Chapin said.

At a public meeting Thursday night, Chapin and project officials detailed what the project would look like. In short, the parkway project will be two lanes instead of four, and it will contain a slew of upgrades to the area including 25 mph zones, updates to pedestrian walkways, wastewater upgrades and added traffic lights.

"The Champlain Parkway project will complement the growing vitality of the South End," Chapin said.

In addition, they plan to move commercial traffic out of residential neighborhoods.

"Part of this project is new construction connecting I-189 to the street grid in the South End," Chapin said.

Some residents are still concerned, pointing to issues like rerouting of traffic and shared bike and walkways.

"Our neighborhood is going to be ground zero in a certain way for the influx of traffic, the increase of traffic," Burlington resident Andrew Simon said.

"We just had an experience with curb bump-outs at the corner of St. Paul and Maple; they had to take them out," Burlington resident Donna Walters said.

Other citizens say this will clear up issues that already exist like the large trucks in residential areas.

"The Champlain Parkway will help to alleviate that. It's absolutely necessary," Burlington resident Kyle Creason said.