Burlington, VT (WVNY) — The Champlain Parkway project has been given the greenlight by the Federal Highway Association and after almost 57 years, the prospect of finally breaking ground is on the horizon.
Back in 1965, the Champlain Parkway was originally pitched as a major highway cutting directly through Burlington’s South End.
“Original plans were a four lane, limited access high-speed highway really dividing the South End,” said Chapin Spencer, the Director of Burlington Public Works. “This project has come such a far way that it’s barely recognizable from its original origins. I think it’s taken this long for us to achieve a design that really fits into the vitality of the South End and will help it grow in the future.”
Spencer says that modern day plans are aimed at drawing traffic away from neighborhood streets, including truck traffic from the interstate to industrial sites.
“We’ve right-sized the project to now be a 25 mile an hour city street with bus stops like you’ll see behind me, shelters, bike facilities, enhanced crosswalks, raised intersections. Two miles of shared use path. Storm water sand filters that are actually going to have this road protect Lake Champlain.”
The project has been at a standstill over the last three years due to environmental concerns, but a 685 page document has brought federal, state and city officials together.
“The Federal Highway has issued a Record of Decision which is basically a permit that Federal Highway needs to issue in order to authorize construction funding and allow the project to go out to bid.”
Construction could start this summer if the city gets a competitive bid from a company willing to take on the project.
“The first section of work will be along the new section between Home Avenue and Lakeside Avenue. We are working to phase all these South End projects in a way that will keep people moving.”
That first phase could be completed by Fall 2024. Spencer said that aside from alleviating traffic, the Parkway would also bring big improvements for bikers and pedestrians in the Queen City.