Monday, April 10, 2017

Pine Street Coalition Meets with State and Federal Transportation Officials

In recent weeks a delegation of Pine Street Coalition members met separately with State and Federal Highway Administration officials in Montpelier to outline the Coalition Champlain Parkway Re-design Guidelines.  The Coalition explained through through new maps and discussions their call for  a "cheaper, cleaner, quicker and (much) safer Parkway design.

The Coalition expressed thanks to Vermont Agency of Transportation Secretary Joseph Flynn for taking time to meet on February 24 and Vermont Division Federal Highway Administration Administrator Matthew Hake who provided time to the Coalition delegation February 23.

At each meeting the Coalition emphasized a substantial amount of change had occurred since the public comment period for the current design closed 11 years ago, that undertaking a re-design along current best practices not only saves money, does more with less, but in the long run saves valuable time should the undesirable path of legal action prove successful. Throughout discussions the importance of maintaining connection to Queen City Park Road and the Kmart Plaza area--since designated by Hannaford for relocation of their supermarket--as well as avoiding 1 1/2 lane miles of roadway and all the environmental impact associated, reducing instead of increasing the number of painful injuries to South End residents and visitors, and provision of safe, separate walk and bike facilities absent from the current design.   Best practices today include separate walk and bike facilities, roundabouts, and conversion where feasible of existing traffic signals to roundabouts.  Gaining six acres of land for economic development and preservation of Englesby Brook also comprise important advantages of the revised design approach advocated by the Coalition.  The Coalition identifies $11.6 million in cost reductions while vastly improving the transportation, safety, and environmental impacts of the Parkway. 

Administrator Hake's office can at any time declare the old Parkway design no longer satisfactory and move a new planning process allowing full neighborhood involvement to complete a modern design which incorporates "systematic safety" and "equality streets," the type of best practices containined in the City's North Avenue Corridor Plan adopted in 2014 and the current Walk Bike Master Plan set for approval by the City Council by the end of April.

The Coalition delegations included Diane Gayer, Mary Twitchell, Charles Simpson, Steve Goodkind, Ibnar Avilix Stratibus, Carolyn Bates, Tony Redington, and Jack Daggett.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

City Council Candidate Scores Parkway Design Woes

This week South District (Wards 5&6) candidate Charles Sampson posted the following on Front Porch Forum:  "In a recent post to Ward 5 FPF, Councilor Mason provided an update on the City’s plans for the Champlain Parkway. He writes: “Potential changes [connecting Pine Street to Queen City Park Road; roundabouts; separate bike and pedestrian paths] may be considered after the project is complete.” The weakness in the City’s approach to this project is glaring. First, the administration proposes spending $44 million in mixed funding to build a road that fails to meet connectivity and complete streets standards, then suggests that later on the City, on it’s own dime, will make the costly corrections
Costs for mismanaging the Parkway project include forcing South End residents to endure truck traffic for 25 years after the C1 [“road to nowhere”] segment of the roadway was completed from Shelburne to Home while it was, and remains, closed. Second, it includes devoting a 1.6 mile swath of our crucial Enterprise Zone--the key to our future as a high tech creative hub--to a redundant highway from Home to Lakeside. Third, if fails to conserve the Englesby Brook ravine as protected natural area helping preserve our lake water quality, instead bottling it up under the new road. Over $11 million in combined federal, state, and local funds could be saved by canceling C2, the segment from Home to Lakeside, even as we open up that area to job creating, tax paying economic development. The hiatus that the City created by dithering for 25 years is what has led to the use of this publicly-owned right of way as car dealership storage and inefficient surface parking.

When you’re in a hole, you don’t keep digging. The public needs to weigh in on alternative designs for this 1960s limited-access highway that we can’t afford and shouldn’t desire. Vote the public interest on March 7. Charles Simpson, Candidate for Council, South District. '

Thursday, November 17, 2016

December Neighborhood Meeting

About 60 residents turned out for the Pine Street Coalition (PSC) Neighborhood Meeting December 8 at Burlington Public Works Conference Room. The PSC stressed a set of Redesign Guidelines achieves transportation facilities “cheaper, cleaner, quicker and (much) safer,” “doing more than less,” said PSC's Tony Redington.


 Charles Simpson gave introductory remarks, then introduced the three person panel, Steve Goodkind, former Burlington Public Works Director; Tony Redington, an advocate for transportation safety and roundabouts; and Diane Gayer, an architect and principal of the Vermont Design Institute.” You can view the presentations and lengthy public question and answer period on Channel 17 here: https://www.cctv.org/watch-tv/programs/champlain-parkway-lets-do-it-right-0
Redington pointed to the double digit growth in highway fatalities 2015-2016, the first such surge in a half century as a concern. The Parkway calls for six new traffic signals systems which generate a 900% increase in rates of serious injuries and twice the crash rates compared to a roundabout. The purpose of the Parkway touts safety but the current design decreases safety by generating more crashes and more injuries than currently, Redington says.


Monday, October 17, 2016

No Busy Street Roundabouts in Burlington, Chittenden County & U.S.--12,000 Excess Deaths Yearly Plus Serious Injuries

While checking google alerts on press roundabout construction activity one finds some where one cannot stop oneself from commenting.  It is particularly poignant living in Chittenden County and Burlington with numberless busy streets which are unsafe for all modes. 

Drive underway to stop Redlands [CO] roundabout

http://www.gjsentinel.com/news/articles/drive-underway-to-stop-redlands-roundabout#

The United States once #1 in highway safety collapsed to #19 recently and we record 12,000 excess deaths (of over 30,000 fatalities a year)--19th was before the highest jump, 7%, in U.S. highway fatalities last year, the greatest increase recorded in a half century. Pedestrians and bicycle fatalities increased at a greater rate last year and for several years before compared to vehicle occupant deaths. The roundabout, the safety belt of intersections cuts serious and fatal injuries about 90%--the U.S. lags most nations in adopting modern roundabout technology (built with stone age materials). Finally, this year the Obama administration took action--it requires States and metropolitan agencies (MPOs) to record current car occupant fatalities/serious injuries and separately the rate for walk bike rates per mile of travel. The state highway agencies and MPOs then must set a target for reducing serious/fatal injury rates and then measure their results--this is a must to continue to receive federal highway dollars. Sweden, #1 i highway safety, has more roundabouts now than traffic signals and moves to reduce their traffic signal numbers another 40%. You can imagine my view of a petition to stop a roundabout being installed for increased safety. 

Tony Redington @TonyRVT08 TonyRVT.blogspot.com  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

100 Roundabouts/Safest Intersection in World Can be Most Beautiful in the World (Carmel, IN)

100 Roundabouts and Counting


Burlington about 1980 was bigger than the Indianapolis well to do suburb of Carmel.  In 1996, a year after the first northeast roundabout came alive on a muggy August afternoon in Montpelier, the first roundabout appeared in a private development in Carmel and in 1997 the first roundabout on a public street.  (Montpelier's Keck Circle the 19th in the U.S., first east of Colorado and north of Maryland.)

Yes Carmel's roundabouts hit the century mark this year:
http://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/hamilton-county/2016/11/17/carmels-opens-100th-roundabout/93966544/

Carmel once smaller than Burlington now is about twice BTV population and very well to do.  It is bronze level bicycle standard (BTV?).  Still with 100 roundabouts it vehicle travel times (yes it does have several freeway exits, mostly with roundabouts) within the City quick with little intersection delay and walking safety surely is very high and comfortable compared to the gauntlet faced by those who try to walk outside of the Marketplace here in BTV--plus all the time standing around waiting for signal clearance.

Another key point for Carmel (rated 1st and 2nd in America's top small city by Money Magazine in recent years):  the Mayor in Carmel since 1995 has been the irrepressible Jim Brained who won a landslide election against a City Councilor by among other things--yes, vowing another 13 roundabouts in his current term. 

Jim wants used to say he wanted the City to be a 100 roundabout one signal City--he got the first part in his pocket and still a few signals to put in the recycle bin to get their population down to one.  Jim should get an award from AARP which advocates conversion of signals to roundabouts for the safety of senior driver. 

One casualty of Carmel's roundaboutamainia has been the disbanding of the emergency services special jaws of life unit--with all those roundabouts the City no longer has significant serious car crashes.  


Well, do not fear, Burlington and the County is set to get it first busy street roundabout for sure--in 2020 (the rotary on Shelburne St.). Vermont now has 14 roundabouts (latest at Walmart Bennington store entrance), and its four downtown roundabouts (Montpelier, Middlebury, and Manchester Center) record after a combined half century of operation one non-fatal pedestrian injury.  In a recent four year period 17 Burlington intersections (14 signaled) average one injury to a person on foot a year and one fatality was recorded.  With bike and pedestrians rising and the U.S. highway deaths spiking up 17 percent over the last 18 months after a half century of steady decline, there is renewed interest in safety on our streets for those travel on foot by bicycle--and yes, by motor vehicle.  Roundabouts cut  serious and fatal injuries by about 90% says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in their landmark study.   Can you spell "roundabout" as the intersection safety belt?

 CARMEL MOST BEAUTIFUL ROUNDABOUT
The most beautiful roundabout in the world is in Carmel, IN, suburb of Indianapolis.  


Carmel located in a no-growth state was below Burlington population in 1980 and now is about twice our size.  Has taken a first and a second place in recent annual Money Magazine ratings for best small cities.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The North Avenue "pilot" four-to-three lane demonstration this summer mostly to improve car travel and car occupant safety also features the first Burlington demonstration cycle track (protected bike lanes) near VT 127 set to be installed from end to end of North Ave (2.8 miles North St--Plattsburgh Ave.) when street reconstruction occurs. These reflectorized flexible posts can be removed in winter. Parkway design contains no separate, safe bicycle treatment at all--Pine Street Coalition Re-design Guidelines call for a separate, safe bicycle treatment from bottom of Pine to Curtis Lumber Co. as part of project.   

When cycle track is combined with safe roundabout intersections, the current less than 10% of Burlington bike-potential population will expand enormously to levels in advanced nations. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Public Meeting Update of Shelburne Street Roundabout Progress

BURLINGTON, VT—June 30, 2016 The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) project manager calls the Shelburne Street roundabout project the most difficult in his 17 year career because of the “spaghetti” of utilities underground.

Engineer Michael LaCroix, P.E. gave a “very likely“ roundabout installation for 2020 at the high accident list intersection where two pedestrian injuries were recorded during 2011-2014. when it rated within the 17 highest pedestrian crash locations in Burlington. LaCroix said he checked the crash performance of the three Route 15 Lamoille County roundabouts (Cambridge, Hyde Park, and Morrissville) and found a 50% reduction in crashes. He pointed out that because of the lower speeds at a roundabout that crashes which do occur are less severe on average than those at signs or signals. The project construction takes two years with the “hoped for” start in 2019 devoted to the utilities work and 2020 the actual construction of the roundabout.



About 20 residents and Department of Public Works (DPW) staff attend the June 29 meeting where LaCroix agreed to periodic updates at the request of City Councilor Karen Paul who explained that the project which goes back to 2008 has been very difficult to get information about since. In the most recent AOT report the intersection recorded 50 crashes over five years. LaCroix stressed the project is a collaborative one with DPW where Laura Wheelock is project manager.  LaCroix's unit is doing the design work. He said the project is an “absolute” priority and continues as first or second among the dozen projects assigned to his unit. LaCroix who meets with DPW every three months saw no reason that updates on project status can be done regularly. 

LaCroix said once the utilities plans are worked out with each utility expected over the next months the regular steps of acquisition of right-of-way occurs in 2017 and 2018 along with final design elements take place.

Travel time may be somewhat longer for those traveling St. Paul/Shelburne Streets but less for those entering from the other three streets, Locust, Ledge and South Willard.

About half the cost of the $2-$4 million project involves underground utilities work. Utilities include water, electric, at least two cable lines, and Vermont Gas—all with various connections and locations at the intersection involving five streets. Added to this work are what might be termed pockets to take storm water runoff and treat if before joining a pipe which directly enters Lake Champlain.