Thursday, January 3, 2019

Governor Scott: Stop the Hurtful Parkway!! Start a Neighborhood Roadway Re-Design!!

December 12, 2018

Governor Phil Scott
Pavilion Office Building 
109 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05609 

Dear Governor Scott:

The members of the Pine Street Coalition would like to congratulate you on winning another term as Governor of our State of Vermont. Our Coalition is a grassroots and volunteer citizens' organization with about 100 members dedicated to safe and quality transportation in Burlington's South End neighborhood.

In addition, we thank you, along with Transportation Secretary Flynn for meeting with a delegation of the Coalition May 8 at your Capitol Building office to learn more about our neighborhood concerns over the outdated and unsafe design of the Champlain Parkway. Its last public hearing now dates back 12 years to November 2006.

The Parkway design, a vestige of 1960s thinking, was originally thought of as a segment of a four-lane limited access ring road surrounding the center of Burlington. The public comment on the project ended in 2006 and the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact (FSEIS) issued 2009. The total project cost now estimated at $43 million funding share -- 95% federal, 3% State and 2% City monies.

Since the FSEIS was issued in 2009, the neighborhood has blossomed into the most vibrant section of our City, and major changes in laws and policies affecting highway design have also occurred. The Pine Street Coalition steadfastly maintains it would be best for all if the current obsolete and invalid iteration of the Champlain Parkway roadway design is abandoned and a modern design begun through a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. A new EIS would be driven in great part by the neighborhood itself whose very economy and safety are at stake. We have suggested Re-Design Guidelines for improvements meeting current and future transportation needs—particularly by providing separate, safe walk and bike facilities totally lacking in the Parkway design. We can meet current and future needs far better and overall at lower cost. Additionally, both safety and climate change emissions now possible through “best practices” were left out of the current design considerations. Using “best practices” serious injuries could be reduced over current levels and significant reductions in climate change emissions achieved.

A re-design certainly will reduce two streets between Home and Flynn Avenues to one street, the most glaring financial waste. As well, connectivity between Burlington and So. Burlington can be preserved instead of severing one of the only two north-south corridors here in the City. Upwards of six acres can be retained for protection and preservation of Englesby Brook, park and open space, and economic development. Again, new regulations require minimizing impacts on our low income Maple/King neighborhood not even considered in the FSEIS process.

This April, the Coalition issued a detailed 240+ page set of documents detailing the changes since the 2009 FSEIS on the ground and in new laws and policies at Federal, State and City levels. This documented challenge to the City, State and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) calling for a new EIS process will be considered by the FHWA in re-evaluation as required in federal law and regulation and
sets the basis of possible subsequent federal court action. Already since spring alleged errors in land taking procedures under State laws by the City lead to the current suits before Chittenden Superior Court.

With City representatives recently stating the project could be tied up in courts for an unknown number of years, we respectfully request it is in the interests of all to stop the Parkway now and start a new EIS. This promises a far better result than the uncertain outcome of years of litigation, increasingly likely to lead to a new EIS as time goes on. This is the same contention put forth by the Coalition to Federal Highway, Vermont Agency of Transportation and local officials in meetings since early last year.

Finally, the Pine Street Coalition respectfully requests your taking action for a new EIS process at this juncture in favor of a quality and safe roadway project. Such a decision promises not only a safe and quality project, but financial savings and certain economic progress for our neighborhood, the City of Burlington, our County and our State.

Yours truly,

Pine Street Coalition

Tony Redington  -  President 
Charles Simpson -  First Vice President
Jack Daggitt - Second Vice President
Steve Goodkind  -  Treasurer
Ib Nar - Secretary

cc Vermont Secretary of Transportation Joseph Flynn
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger
Mathew Hake, P.E., Vermont Division Administrator, FHWA
Members of the Burlington City Council

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Vermonters Pay $166 Million More for U.S. Base Defense Share This Year

  Update of the Defense Department Numbers published in last post...

Our Congressional Delegation—Leahy, Sanders and Welch--do an absolutely lousy job educating Vermonters on the federal budget and how we all get fleeced by Trump and the Republicans. The Defense budget is the most obvious, the 2017 federal budget, part-year President Obama compared to the two Trump budgets, the one we operate under right now, federal fiscal year 2019, and the “base” budget Congress has agreed to started October 1, 2018 for 2019, total defense increase is $83.1 billion. Based on Vermont's per capita share of $2 million per billion of federal expenditure we undertake an additional $166 million share of Defense expenditures, fiscal year 2019 over fiscal year 2017. This truly is “huge.” For example, the 13,000 Vermont renter households (about one in seven statewide) receiving federal “affordable housing assistance” (30% of income max for rent) consumes about $106 million federal funds. The defense department increase equals over 1 ½ times total federal affordable housing assistance in Vermont helping 13,000 renters, one in seven rental households ! Which do you prefer, serving the needs of 1,800 households on housing assistance waiting lists alone here in Chittenden County or $166 million more for defense? Likely and correctly Leahy, Sanders, and Welch will say if they did not support the $83.1 billion defense increase, the Republican Scrooge Brigade would have gutted housing assistance and most other discretionary social support programs like our community health centers and child services. Fine, Congressional delegation, but tell the truth every day how this year Vermonters anti-up $166 million to support more F 35s, the Afghanistan War, etc. Each breath of criticizing a Supreme Court nominee, single payer health, or farmer subsidies, tell us Vermonters where our program increases tax money goes to—more F 35s and military drones. The lack of honesty from our Vermont political leaders helps explains frustration building up since about 1980 over the accelerating maldistribution of economic benefits which mostly accrue to the top 1%. Sad comment on the so-called leaders of Vermont with its town meeting government where town budgets get screened down the the last penny.

Base defense budget numbers used here does not include “Overseas Contingency Operations” ($71.7 billion FFY 2017) or other related expenditures which includes VA, and other defense support $228.2 billion budget enacted FFY 2017.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Roundabouts to the Rescue--Creative Traffic Control Officer in Wilmington, NC

How roundabouts in hurricane/floods in the Carolinas came to the rescue in Wilmington, NC when the the electricity went out. How a creative traffic control officer—not an engineer--became a roundabout designer and cut one queue from five miles to about a half mile (about 1250 cars to 125 cars).

Note this video seems to work on some but not all browsers:

Text from North Carolina roundabout engineer Jim Dunlop, P.E., North Carolina Department of Transportation writing in the Roundabout Research listserv this week:
I thought it was the Wilmington traffic engineer.  Turns out it was a traffic enforcement officer from Wilmington.  He set up his patrol car in the middle of the intersection, to warn drivers to that the signal was out.  He then put a circle of cones around his vehicle to hopefully protect it.  After a while, he realized that drivers were treating it essentially as a roundabout.  So he set up lane closures to bring it to a single lane (with a right turn bypass!)  The aforementioned traffic engineer then took the idea and modified it a few times to make it work better.  They implemented it at two other intersections.  One of those had about a five mile backup which became about a ½ mile queue after the temp roundabout was implemented.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Road to Nowhere Walk and Bike Tours -- Saturday, September 15 10 a.m.






Both 10 a.m. Saturday, September 15 (September 22 rain date) start at bottom of Pine Street at the unfinished Parkway – unlimited free parking at adjacent park-and-ride. The roundtrip 1.5 mile has a halfway stop for refreshments at City Market South End and ends back at Pine Street about noon. Walk or bike, choose your group!

                    Tour features Include
See first hand how Pine Street corridor gets severed by the Parkway

Find why walk and bike groups oppose the Parkway from lack of separate and safe walk and bike facilities

Learn how a single highly safe roundabout can serve as a safe-for-all City Market and Petra Cliffs gateway

Discover one street instead one from Home to Flynn Avenue just common sense

Learn the potential $8 million (of $43.5 million) project cost savings

Savor the view of the world's tallest file case sculpture opposite City Market South End

Ask your questions about the Parkway, latest status of several challenges, etc.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

News Release on Appeals at Chittenden Superior Court Aug. 8 -- Important Step Towards New Design!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AUGUST 11, 2018 - Pine Street Coalition
BURLINGTON--An important step towards a possible Champlain Parkway public redesign
process occurred at Chittenden Superior Court Wednesday, August 8. Pine Street Coalition
and Burlington Fortieth, LLC, owner of Innovation Center, undertook separate appeals of the
legalities of the City's May project land takings and the Necessity Hearing, likely to stall
the $43 million South End project advance nine months.

Judge Robert A. Mello ordered legal arguments submitted by November 8 followed by
a reply period leading to a mid-winter Court proceeding. Meanwhile further project right-of-
way actions cannot proceed.

The Coalition stated purpose is to stop what it terms the obsolete and unsafe Parkway
current design and start a new public design and environmental document, an Environmental
Impact Statement (E.I.S.), process.

In April the grassroots Pine Street Coalition challenged the City, VTrans, and Federal
Highway Administration (FHWA) to stop the out-of-date $43 million Champlain Parkway.
The Coalition detailed numerous changes in laws and policies, traffic and demographics,
and on-the-ground development since the 2009 environmental document. The
Coalition's challenge documents totaled over 240 pages. The Coalition calls for a “cheaper,
greener, quicker, and highly safe roadway with savings of up to $8 million!”

The Parkway purpose now, speeding cars between I 189 and downtown, belongs to the car
centric 1960s not the multi-modal world of today, the Coalition states.
The Coalition will likely challenge the project in federal courts should a new design process
and Environmental Impact Statement (E.I.S.) process is not begun by the VTrans, FHWA
and the City. The last Parkway public hearing dates from 2006 and official environmental document 2009. FHWA and VTrans in response the Coalition April filing communicated they will take the Coalition submission into consideration when
making the next required decision on whether the current design goes forward.

The Coalition condemns the Parkway project for among other reasons: (1) the
six new unsafe traffic signals causing an estimated eight additional injuries a year to
residents and visitors over current best practice, roundabouts; (2) permanently
severing the Pine Street corridor short of Queen City Park Road, one of only two
South End north-south routes; (3) interfering with or blocking current GMT transit
vehicle routings and central facility access; (4) negative impacts on the low income
Maple/King Streets neighborhood in violation of environmental justice regulations; (5) lack of safe and separate walk and bike facilities in the corridor; (6) building an
excess 1.5 lane miles of asphalt roadway consuming about eight acres of land better employed for economic development, open space and protecting stressed Englesby Brook; (7) wasting tens of thousands of gallons of gasoline and excessive climate change pollutants annually; (8) wasting up to $8 million in scarce transportation funds; (9) serious water related issues involving undetected wetlands and expired wetland permits; and (10) inconsistencies or violations of the Parkway design and documents with new laws, policies and plans at federal, state, region and City levels since the 2009 ruling project documents.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Pine Street Coalition Court Appeal August 8, VT Digger Commentary

Pine Street Coalition appeal of lack of notification of some property owners and those affected in Parkway land takings by the City of Burlington in a May 21 Necessity Hearing and site visits.  Both the Coalition and Burlington Fortieth, LLC, owner of Innovation Center, filed separate appeals and first status hearing occurs Wednesday, August 8 at 10:30 a.m. at Chittenden Superior Court, 175 Main St., Burlington 

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Tony Redington, of Burlington, for the Pine Street Coalition LC3. He is a transportation policy development and research specialist.
Turns out the Champlain Parkway goes back to court Aug. 8 with two opposition groups — the Pine Street Coalition and Burlington Fortieth LLC, which owns Innovation Center — appealing property takings by the city of Burlington over claiming lack of notification of some property owners and others affected.

The grassroots Pine Street Coalition and Fortieth Burlington filed separate appeals.
The Pine Street Coalition appeal follows its challenge a few weeks ago to the city, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration to stop the shoddy project now because of changes in laws and policies since the 2009 now stale and invalid environmental document. The coalition backs its challenge with 240+ page documents set. The coalition seeks a cheaper, new generation approach that meets the business and community needs of the South End neighborhoods. The stated purpose of speeding cars between I-189 and downtown belongs to the car-centric 1960s, not the multi-modal world of today.

The 2.3 mile project’s fatal flaws stem from laws, policies and new technology adopted since the last public hearing in 2006 and an environmental document filing in 2009. This decade, the South End emerged as the most exciting and vibrant area of Burlington, bursting with new development, generator spaces, eateries, a technology enclave, small businesses, an expanding artist and artisan neighborhood, and major anchor installations led by the City Market Co-op South End with 100+ jobs and Champlain College’s Miller Center education and cybersecurity venture with 70 jobs.
The surge this decade in highway fatalities, led by pedestrians and bicyclists, compares to the absence of any safety consideration in the parkway, counter to the 2012 Vermont Complete Streets Law and federal statutes as well as several city plans since. The coalition predicts increased intersections injuries. Other major areas dismissed or ignored in the parkway runup: climate change emissions, impacts on the low income Maple-King street neighborhood, gasoline use, separate and safe pedestrian and bicycle travelways and encroachment on open space and the stressed Englesby Brook, and blocking transit terminal facilities access and routes.

The two most obvious wasteful and hurtful parkway elements: two streets between Home and Flynn avenues instead of one quality and the severing of one of the only two north-south corridors in the South End by dead ending Pine Street short of Queen City Park Road, which forces South Enders onto Shelburne Road to travel to Hannaford, Lowe’s or the Palace theater. The Burlington Walk Bike Council in detailed letters to the city cited unsatisfactory walk and bike facilities and in 2016 endorsed the coalition’s parkway Redesign Guidelines.

Yes, technology and best practices for street design changed radically this decade on busy streets which now include roundabout intersections (90 percent reduction in serious or fatal injuries – advocated by AARP, Geico, AAA, the Federal Highway Administration and VTrans draft development guidelines) and cycle track (protected bike lanes). Bicycles and pedestrians now require separate and safe travelways — a parkway defect easily remedied in a new design.
The coalition calls for a cheaper (about $8 million cheaper), greener, quicker and (much) safer parkway design done through a democratic process. After four decades of studies and still invalid design, “let’s do it right the first time” by shaping a parkway the city can love!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sign the Petition! Donate! To Stop the Parkway and Start a New Safe, Community Driven Design!

You can help s
top the Champlain Parkway and ensure starting a Community Re-design!

Two steps you can take to make a difference!

Join together and take action for safe streets in our South End, save
up to $8 million, reduce delay for all, help the environment and
business!! (Cheaper, greener, quicker and much safer!) The Pine
Street Coalition needs both community support and the dollars to carry
forward legal efforts.
1. Please sign the petition to join the grassroots Pine Street
Coalition fight to stop the Parkway and start a new citizen-driven

2. If you are able, please donate to sustain the legal challenge
(even a $6 suggested donation representing 2006 when last public
hearing on the Parkway ended can make a difference!)

or mail your contribution made out to the 
Pine Street Coalition, Post Office Box 8726, Burlington, VT  05402