Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Let the City, State and Federal Highway Administration Know Your View on the Parkway by October 10!!


For the first time since 2006 you can make your thoughts known on any aspect of the Champlain Parkway!!

Comments are due by October 10 using an address below!   

While the September 26 Outreach Meeting focused on the hurt the Parkway does by dumping 29-37% more traffic at the heart of the King/Maple Neighborhood, home to the residents with 80%+ with low incomes and a growing minority population (second highest to ONE in Burlington) comments on all aspects of the project will be accepted--non safe side walk in the $47 million project, no safe and separate bike accommodation, nothing but six climate warming high injury traffic signals instead of safe-for-all-modes roundabouts.     

Comment Period Ends October 10, 2019


Comments may be emailed to: Burl-Comments@Vermont.gov

or mailed to:
Mr. Kenneth Sikora, Jr.
Environmental Program Manager
Federal Highway Administration
87 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05602






Sunday, September 22, 2019

Champlain Parkway Hurtful Impacts on Key Pine Street King and Maple Intersections! Hearing 5:30 pm City Hall Thrus.


Sometimes you just cannot make these things up.  First, the obsolete, harmful Champlain Parkway design installs signal with high speeds at Pine/Maple and Pine/King, then northbound traffic restricted left hand turns are banned so minutes of delay and idle global warming emissions continue!  Attend speak out on this harm to the King/Maple Street low income neighborhood at the hearing on environmental justice impacts of the Parkway.  Signals increase injuries to area residents compared to "best practice" roundabouts found by AARP Vermont's Pine Street Workshop to easily fit Pine Street intersections and handle all large trucks, buses, emergency equipment, etc.   Thursday, City Hall, 5:30 for the hearing!



This Thursday Sept. 26, City Hall, Contois Aud, Champlain Parkway Meeting!

First time in 14 years (2006 last time) for single hearing focus on Champlain Parkway?  Objective centers on minimizing impacts of hurtful Parkway design in terms of environmental justice on the King/Maple Street area (includes families and children at Flynn Co-op Housing!).


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Public Hearing on Champlain Parkway Thursday, Sept. 26, 5:30 pm, City Hall, Contois Auditorium



CHAMPLAIN PARKWAY “ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE”
OUTREACH MEETING

Thursday, September 26, 2019, City Hall 5:30 p.m


The Department of Public Works describes the meeting as a “Public outreach meeting for Champlain Parkway CUSTOMER SERVICE,  DPW-PINECUSTOMERSERVICE@BURLINGTONVT.GOV, DEPT. OF PUBLIC WORKS, BURLINGTON…information about the Champlain Parkway project and is seeking input from the greater King Street and Maple Street neighborhood...There will be an open house beginning at 5:30PM. Following that, starting at 6PM, will be a presentation followed by public comments...For additional information, please visit the project website:  www.champlainparkway.com


Do it right the first time” is the position of the Pine Street Coalition (PSC), our volunteer grassroots group committed to a new street design to replace the outdated and hurtful project, particularly the six additional injury-generating traffic signals. Our low income King/Maple neighborhood bears the brunt of negative impacts. Those traffic signals waste gasoline, up global warming and other pollutants, and cost more to maintain. Build safe pedestrian sidewalk or safe bikeway! None in the Parkway design now. Stop the dead ending Pine Street permanently disconnecting from Queen City Park Road, remove six acres of asphalt better used for Englesby Brook preservation and economic development. Install “best practice” safe-for-all modes roundabouts (cut global warm emissions 23-29%) to access City Market, Flynn at Parkway, and Pine Street intersections including Maple and King, etc. Go “cheaper, greener, quicker and safer.”

Pine Street Coalition — Stop, Re-Design Champlain Parkway Sign the Petition:   https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/re-design-champlain-parkway-for-safety-climate

Website: SafeStreetsBurlington.com  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SSBPineStreetNOW/


Monday, August 26, 2019

VT Digger Parkway News Today


Well, a busy day with a new lead story on the Parkway in VT Digger August 26.


Our response in the comment area is as follows:
"The Parkway history travels back decades, but the last public hearing in 2006 on this design determined by a 2009 environmental document employed the 2000 Census, outdated 2005 traffic data, obsolete street design technology, no evaluation of safety, no attention to global warming emissions, nor, obviously, recent development like City Market South End. Add the clearly fatal flaw of walling off the Pine St. connection to Hannaford/Lowes/Palace.  [City spends $10 million to reconnect Pine and St. Paul at City Place but disconnects Pine at Parkway makes no sense!]

New "best practices" roundabouts and cycle track now are standard. Several laws, plans and regulations after 2009 must be addressed--the project foundation became solid as quicksand. Safe sidewalk is removed, none added. This plus not a single inch of separate/safe bikeway shows why the City's Walk Bike Council wrote supporting the Pine Street re-design guidance. Spending $47 million then saying we will fix things after?—hole in the ground 2? Redington is a Pine Street Coalition leader."
September 16-21 is National Roundabouts Week, the miracle circular design which cuts serious and fatal injuries 90%, ped injuries too as well as a decrease in bike injuries; a 23-29% reduction in global warming emissions as well as gas consumption; and reduce delay for everyone.  They fit just about everywhere and handle the largest vehicles with ease.

Pine Streets supports an up to date Parkway design--a new start with a blank slate Environmental Impact Statement process.   Note the planning and design monies of $30 million were spent on the now abandoned Circumferential Highway.  Planning and re-design of a modern highway project (this design is not!!) generally is about 10% of project construction cost or about $4-5 million. Pine Street re-design can save more than that by just building one street instead of two from Home to Flynn and dropping entirely (except for a separate and safe sidewalk and bikeway!) new roadway from Flynn to Lakeside Ave.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Federal Highway Administration Delays Pine Street Court Suit to Do Homework! News August 15, 2019


              Champlain Parkway:  Let's shape a roadway our City can love!

The Pine Street Coalition—a Grassroots Volunteer Community Group
         
          For a Cheaper, Greener, Quicker and Much Safer Roadway

                                                          www.SafeStreetsBurlington.com
                                                https://www.facebook.com/SSBPineStreetNOW       

                                Stop!  Reevaluate!  Redesign:  the Champlain Parkway


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  -- 15 August 2019  
Contacts:
Pine Street Coalition Tony Redington 343-6616
Post Office Box 8726 Steve Goodkind 316-6045
Burlington, VT 05402 Charles Simpson 865-5110

FEDERAL COURT DELAYS CHAMPLAIN PARKWAY LAWSUIT:
FHWA TO RE-ASSESS ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IMPACTS OF PROJECT

BURLINGTON.  
The US District Court on August 9 granted a request by the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to delay proceedings in an environmental lawsuit brought by citizens' group Pine Street Coalition, so that the government agency can undertake further study of the environmental justice impacts of the proposed Champlain Parkway.  The $47 million dollar project was initially proposed in the 1960s, and the most recent public hearings were held in 2006. 

Pine Street Coalition's legal challenge asserts that changes to laws, environmental conditions and development in Burlington's South End render the government's prior review of the project outdated. The Coalition claims the design does not meet current safety performance practices, lacks safe and separate walk and bike facilities, and features excess global warming emissions.   
The Pine Street Coalition has also raised concerns regarding the disproportionate and dangerous impacts of the proposed highway project King/Maple Street neighborhood, which is the second poorest in Burlington, with over 80% low and moderate income population, including many families with young children living adjacent to roadway development. Regulations adopted in 2012 require federal agencies to pay close attention to the impacts of development projects on low-income communities, which have often born the brunt of negative environmental impacts like noise, air and water pollution.  FHWA will engage in outreach in this community over the next few months to assess the environmental justice impacts of the proposed highway.


The Pine Street Coalition, formed in 2014, has called for a cooperative approach to redesign the Champlain Parkway project to save money and insuring a safe, quality transportation investment beneficial to the South End neighborhood and City.

Friday, July 5, 2019

A Dystopian Mayor with No Thought for the "Public Interest" in BTV Development, Champlain Parkway?

Does the Mayor of Burlington Want its Citizens to Face Hurtful Investments?  Glitter in the Gutter?

On July 3, Pine Street Coalition leader, South End resident, Professor Emeritus in Sociology SUNY Plattsburgh, wrote this summary of misguided city development at any cost--Dr. Charles Simpson words here:

Young, energetic, a gym-goer, parent of young girls, attractive in a riverboat gambler sort of way, holding developer credentials that include "affordable housing", our mayor is "a man in a hurry" to get things done. What's not to like about Miro? That's his campaign persona, at least. It worked once, then again, netting him the support of the reliable middle class voters with a property stake in the city along with the backing of the developer community. 
His problem now is that he didn't deliver. Not very much, at least. We got an absurdly expensive remake of the bike/walk path, made more expensive due to a toxic soil fiasco that had the City storing it for nearly a year at a public park.  After eliciting proposals from far and wide, he couldn't pull off a Moran Plant remake. It was flawed in concept to begin with: an ice climbing wall? Please. Following up on the example of a 2006 move by the School District to sell the Taft School, a structure built in 1939 with funds from private philanthropy and over $111,000 from the Works Progress Administration--a structure that in its post-education phase was required to become housing for indigent men according to the Taft will--he tried to put Memorial Auditorium similarly into play. Imagining it as simply a fiscal liability rather than a vibrant civic arena, he sought to pass it out of municipal control to UVM until the university opened the bag and found a cat instead of the pig. The cat was the absence of adjacent parking and the presence of likely structural decay. Twisting and turning for a new project, he promised to revive a remnant of the '80s circumferential highway through the South End, pretending that the public purpose of moving interstate highway traffic into the downtown core was still a viable goal. Not to worry that the highway was to end at Lake Street and the downtown had evolved away from a mass shopping function. Thanks to alert citizen activists, that plan is in the courts. Then, there's his efforts to prime the development pump. First there was spot zoning, specifically setting aside the results of a planning process with elaborate public input, specifically Plan BTV, to boost the height limits for two blocks of downtown. The resulting demolition of existing stores destroyed the financial viability of our only department store while the project itself, despite the promised transfusion of some $22 million in tax increment funding, remains a hole in the ground. In desperation for some achievement, he next fixated on a $6 million-plus redesign of a completely serviceable public park, a grandiose and unneeded "improvement" proposed overtly as a solution to soil management issues and less obviously as way to rid the downtown of panhandlers. This too has been stalled by civic activists, unconvinced that lighted and pulsating water jets represent the tourism attraction that visitors seek in New England. 

Then there's the "sins of omission", beginning with the mayor's failure to scotch the Air Force's plans to station 18 nuclear-capable fighter/bombers at our airport in the most densely settled area of the state and including his financial deal with a private investor that guaranteed the sale of our municipal telecom.
  
Had Weinberger listened to authentic public input rather than the charade it became as orchestrated by "outreach consultants", each of these projects would have been greatly improved to the benefit of the public. Citizens developed a much better plan for the remnant of the circumferential highway that would actually enhanced travel connectivity and neighborhood life. Had the mayor listed to critics of downtown development, a reasonably-sized project there would be in the last stages of construction adding jobs, housing, and office space. Had His Honor listened to park enthusiasts, there would be a public bathroom in the downtown and an oasis of shade and grass for the residents rather than another festival venue. Perhaps we'd even have a public toddler play area. 

Some changes have happened for which Mayor Weinberger can take credit. He blocked his own Parks and Recreation department's proposal to expand public moorings at the lake, including refusing the federal grant that went with it, in order to transfer that development opportunity to a group of private investors allowed to lease the public waterfront. He can count on more than 700 units of new housing at Cambrian Rise, a project "greased" with $2 million in public funding to secure its lake view and green space.  Citizen activists wanted additional public benefits--more open land and space for wildlife--but they were rebuffed. Now, with construction underway, even that deal is beginning to seem suspicious as conflict of interest allegations between buyers and sellers have been raised.

To a great degree, politics is a matter of projection. Voters endow candidates and officials with their own hopes and dreams and a positive self image. Here in Burlington, we want to think that our town is dynamic, innovative, compassionate, and trend-setting while delivering quality social services with the costs justly apportioned. This conviction allows us to feel better about ourselves. Our choice of community is thus validated. It takes a lot of failure to chip away at this cultural capital. And for a long time we may be distracted by the razzle-dazzle: "cool" electric scooters on our bike path, a spectacular fireworks display on July 4th, announcements of great works just around the corner including bouncing colored water jets in City Hall Park. But my sense is that it's the morning after Mardi Gras. The only razzle-dazzle we can see is some glitter in the gutter.