BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Channel 3 viewers are speaking out about a controversial downtown Burlington intersection.
"Locals aren't going to come here and the tourists are going to tear the s*** out of their God**** sidewalls, and you can quote me on that one," said local resident Dennis Ailore, one of the dozens of people who emailed and called WCAX upset about the new "bumpout" design at Saint Paul and Maple Streets.
It's part of a city initiative to give more room for people walking, for trees, and for rain gardens to keep stormwater from getting into the lake. The problem is that a lot of drivers hate it, saying the design is faulty, is damaging wheels, and is dangerous.
Celine McArthur spoke with city engineer Norman Baldwin. He says the the project is the new norm for Burlington in order to provide more space for pedestrians.
"Great streets standard is intended to create a different balance in terms of the use of the public right-of-way. Where a lot of the public right-a-ways were used to service traffic, at the expense of all those modes -- whether it be walking, biking, stormwater improvements, all those things -- we now have a different balance how all those fit in the space," Baldwin said. "I'm sure it's going to be a little challenging for people to adapt, but I think in the end, it will produce what we're looking for, which is have the right type of uses on the right streets, to serve the public the best way possible."
Burington Mayor Miro Weinberger has said the city is reviewing the project. "That design -- we have had complaints about it. We have had some incidents where people have hit the curb. There's a bunch of analysis and engineering work going on to review that to see whether there was an error made in the final design there," he said.
Many viewers who contacted us agreed that an error was made. "I busted my wheel open and damaged my rim at the new 'bumpout,'" Sienna Fontaine told WCAX in an email. She says it cost $167 for a new tire. She says she's upset because she reached out to the city twice and has heard no response.
Steven Sciardelli wrote that the mayor's response -- that people will grow to love the intersection and think its one of the best in the city -- "ignores the reality that users will grade the whole project by the major safety issue and inconvenience caused by the bumpouts, not how nice it looks."
Karen Fontaine wrote that she walks the neighborhood regularly. "I've never seen anything close to a pedestrian accident. Maybe the mayor should stop trying to ban cars and make the city friendly to all. Can't wait until he's up for reelection," she said.
"The first significant snow will seal the fate of these bumpouts because of the curb and lanes becoming even more narrow," wrote Jorn Marc de Wilde.
"Like the stalled City Center project, it will make BTV less desirable. Change course before making more mistakes!" wrote George Mincar.
If you want to take part in the discussion, mark your calendar for Sept. 17. It will be addressed at the next City Council meeting for the Transportation, Energy and Utilities Commission sometime between 5-7:30 p.m. The address is 645 Pine Street in Burlington.