Monday, March 21, 2016

Champlain Parkway and Pine Street Corridor Redesign Guidelines

JUST IN:  Burlington Walk Bike Council meeting March 24 by a show of hands recommended almost unanimously that the Council send a letter to the City supporting  the  Pine Street Coalition effort to re-design the Champlain Parkway with safe, separate walk/bike facilities along the route and roundabouts at key intersection as per the "Champlain Parkway and Pine Street Corridor Redesign Guidelines!  See Pine Street Coalition at 

 “Shape a safe and complete streets project for a livable community as well as enabling a thriving business and arts center”

Cities evolve and so must their transportation systems. The South End highway project—once part of a long abandoned freeway encircling Burlington and subsequently up-dated--still fails to serve the City’s residents.

First called the “Southern Connector” and more recently the “Champlain Parkway,” the project requires a reconceptualization to incorporate safety, street connectivity, a reduction in intersection delay, and to support pleasant walk and bike-ability. With these improvements, the corridor can enhance our burgeoning South End Arts District and associated businesses. Over the last year, City residents in the Save Streets Burlington Coalition (SSB) have met among themselves and with City officials, eventually formulating the following “Champlain Parkway and Pine Street Corridor Redesign Guidelines” (Guidelines).

While specific details will require the work of experts, these principles reflect our collective vision of streets supporting livable communities. When the initial thoroughfare was planned in the 1960s, it incorporated a “speed-the-car” logic. The current Parkway design remains committed to that outdated concept. Worse, the $43 million current Parkway design moves away from both safe street and complete street principles. These better principles are reflected in recent public discussions, Plan BTV Downtown and Plan BTV South End, the North Avenue Corridor Plan, the recent preliminary Railyard studies. the 2014 recommendations of the city's Walk Bike Council, and the City Walk Bike Master Plan now nearing conclusion. The current Parkway plan contravenes each of these studies. In January 2016, SSB issued a White Paper which identified South End road needs as beginning with separate walk and bike facilities, environmental sensitivity along this sensitive lake-front area, and overall livability. It prioritized safety—minimizing highway injuries and fatalities—and called for roundabouts rather than signaled intersections.

These briefer “Champlain Parkway and Pine Street Corridor Redesign Guidelines” do not attempt a detailed prescription but set a starting point and identify essential planning principles to guide any final design. Robust public discussion must be a component as the design phase continues to address integration of mass transit along the Pine Street corridor, traffic facilitation on the Pine/King and Pine/Maple intersections, and preservation of existing businesses and rail activity.

Design Guideline: Bottom of Pine Street to Flynn Avenue The present Parkway design reduces the roadway to one lane in each direction with a median on the section west of Shelburne Road. While this works, there’s a flaw. What’s needed at Pine Street is an intersection that avoids barricading off this important north/south corridor from points south so access to Queen City Park Road and the Kmart lot and other area businesses is maintained. The abandoned Kmart Plaza is a natural site for an intercept park-and-ride facility to shuttle workers to and from Burlington employers including the Hill institutions. Within the project’s 25 year lifetime, it is likely a New North End to Kmart Plaza light rail line will be built to connect North Avenue, the Marketplace, then follow Pine Street through Kmart Plaza and beyond. From the Pine Street interchange, a simple two-lane street with a median should continue to the Home Avenue intersection. From Home Avenue to Flynn Avenue, the Parkway becomes a local street conforming to the “complete street” design which includes separate bike and walking paths along the present routes of Bachelor and Briggs streets, with full connectivity to Morse Place, Lyman Street and Ferguson Avenue. This scraps the present design which would walled off these streets with a limited-access Parkway. The SSB plan enables full access to City Market planned at Flynn. That intersection, as well as the Pine/Parkway exchange, must be efficiently supported by roundabouts. Using Bachelor and Briggs will save a considerable amount of money and free up land, as contrasted with the present Parkway plan.

Design Guideline: Flynn to Lakeside We propose eliminating the planned roadway from Flynn to Lakeside that would otherwise traverse industrial plant areas and sensitive marshes. Advantages in doing so include the opportunity to conserve natural areas bordering Englesby Brook and a better

Pine Street Coalition Forms to Re-Design Champlain Parkway

Pine Street Coalition forms to Re-design Champlain Parkway Following a February public event a new group, the Pine Streets Coalition (PSC), aiming at re-designing the Champlain Parkway to meet the needs of the South End and the City. The Pine Street Coalition naturally grew out of Safe Streets Burlington (SSB) which undertook the first tasks to identify the defects in the current Parkway design, looked into alternatives, and organized a major February event, “Let's Do It Right,” where for the first time since 2006 a full exploration the issues with the Parkway and open ended public discussion took place.

Both PSC and SSB developed Parkway re-design guidelines and PSC has prepared maps outlining the changes in design which makes the Parkway and Pine Street $43 million investment responsive to roadway and neighborhood practice today, distinct from the dominant freeway thinking of the 1950s encapsulated in the current Parkway design. That freeway thinking remained completing a freeway ring road around the City which practically erased the the waterfront area an divided the Old North End in two. First and foremost design approaches today stress safety for those who walk, bike, and travel by car. Both PSC and SSB stress the current Parkway design results in higher injury rates. Instead of creating the barricades to access contained in the current Parkway design, the PSC calls for maintaining and expanding connectivity throughout the Parkway and Pine Streets corridors. The PSC takes savings from the Parkway re-design and invests in upgrading the lower part of Pine Street south of Lakeside Avenue into a complete street.

The Pine Street Coalition will continue their educational and community contact efforts going forward and seek new resident members and partners from businesses and others throughout the South End and the City with concerns and connections to the effects of bringing new thinking and design to the Parkway project. Presenters at that February event and members of the newly formed PSC include long time Burlington Public Works Department director Steve Goodkind, Diane Gayer of the Vermont Design Institute, retired professor and Neighborhood Planning Assembly Steering Committee member Charles Simpson, and safe streets and roundabout advocate Tony Redington.

For information about the Pine Street Coalition see the website: Safe Streets Coalition website: