City removes homemade crosswalk in Burlington neighborhood

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A homemade crosswalk residents painted in their Burlington neighborhood over the weekend was removed Tuesday by the city.

"I understand that it is an act of vandalism and that's really sad, but it is also important to see we need crosswalks on this street," said Coco Zephir, a local resident and mother.

She says she was thrilled to wake up this past weekend to spot a new crosswalk on Locust Terrace leading to Calahan Park. "We were really excited about that," Zephir said.

But that excitement was short-lived. Burlington Public Works Tuesday morning pressure washed it away. "We cannot have illegally installed crosswalks that do not meet engineering standards in the city," said the BPW's Chapin Spencer.

Someone painted the crosswalk in the Five Sister's Neighborhood without city approval. Residents say they have have complained for years that cars drive too fast and kids often use the spot as a cut through to the park.

"As a new mom it's hard to see them just wipe it away and say it may not be viable. And there's so many kids who cross there," Zephir said.

Spencer says the illegal crosswalk location is under consideration for a legitimate one. The city will decide by the end of the year if one will be installed. He also points out that two others are being upgraded one and two blocks away. "We cannot install without proper engineering standards. The light levels needs to be appropriate, accessibility needs to be appropriate, and sight lines need to be appropriate," he said. "We cannot leave nor do we condone the installation of crosswalks without that work done on the front end."

Spencer says the city installed ten new crosswalks this year to improve pedestrian safety, including four new crosswalks in the south end, three on Pine Street and one on Flynn Avenue. "We are constantly prioritizing work based on the cost, based on the impact and benefit to the community, and we have to make tough choices," he said.

"It needs to happen now, and as a mom of two kids it's disheartening to see it washed away," Zephir said.

Residents say a feasibility study through the end of the year is too long to wait with kids' safety at risk. They add that too much attention is being put on business districts and not residential neighborhoods.

"We need community crosswalks, not just on Pine Street, not just on the business areas, but we need them next to parks and things like that," Zephir said.

The residents also posted a petition near the crosswalk site, encouraging neighbors to contact the Department of Public Works to demand a permanent crosswalk.