Crosswalk concerns on Burlington's East Avenue

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) There’s another push to make a Burlington street more pedestrian-friendly.

The Neighborhood Planning Assembly for Wards 1 and 8 says East Avenue needs immediate improvements. The main concern is the intersection of East Avenue and Bilodeau Court. They think the crosswalk there is not visible enough and is putting pedestrians in harm’s way.

NPA member Cindy Cook wrote a resolution requesting the city of Burlington install new features to increase visibility such as adding more overhead lighting.

“Stop signs have been floated as an idea, speed bumps, narrowing the road in that location, elevating the crosswalk a little bit so that it's more prominent,” Cook said. “It’s pretty usual that cars do not stop for pedestrians at that crosswalk. So we’re looking at a number of changes to make the crosswalk safer for everyone involved.”

According to Cook, the NPA filed a request with the city two years ago but they have to wait until the other projects that were filed first are completed. But after a woman was hit while walking in the crosswalk, severely injured and taken to the hospital, the NPA is calling on the city to move East Avenue higher up on the priority list.

“Two-and-a-half years ago, the community circulated a petition and asked the Department of Public Works to make East Avenue a complete street. A complete street is a street that works for all users, not just vehicles,” said Cook. “We’re still way down the queue. We’re hoping we’ll move up the queue because there’s so much traffic of all kinds on that street.”

The group is also worried about the overgrown vegetation on the west side of the intersection near the path leading to UVM Medical Center.

Sharon Bushor, I-Burlington City Council, says the concern is the shrubbery makes it harder for drivers to see pedestrians. She says installing a flashing light to alert drivers that a pedestrian crosswalk is ahead would be beneficial.

“The way the bank on the hospital side is -- the topography is such that if you're someone going to cross the street, you almost blend in into the trees and the shrubbery in the bank so you're invisible until you actually take that first step onto the road,” said Bushor.

The NPA approved Cook’s resolution on Nov. 13. They’re sending it to the Department of Public Works and the Transportation Committee.

Cook also wrote a petition that currently has more than 100 signatures. The vice president of hospital services at UVM Medical Center also wrote her a letter expressing support for the resolution.

According to data on the Burlington Police Department’s website, there were 38 traffic violations given to drivers at the intersection of East Avenue and Bilodeau between 2012 to 2018.