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

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The News, the News Conference, and the Documents--Parkway Challenge on the Move!

Making the move to demand a new public design process for the Champlain Parkway the Pine Street Coalition filing of a package of over 200+ pages April 3 to City, State and Federal Highway officials along with the news conference can be found here

The news conference on You Tube here:

And Channel 5 Burlington news story and nightly news clip here:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Pine Street Coalition Tells State and Feds--Time for a New Community Parkway Design Process!

a Democratic Path to a Safe, Quality Parkway for the
South End! “Let's Do It Right the First Time”

Pine Street Coalition Tony Redington 343-6616
Post Office Box 8726 Steve Goodkind 316-6045
Burlington, VT 05402 Charles Simpson 865-5110

BURLINGTON—The Pine Street Coalition today announced its challenge to Federal, State
and City governments to redesign the Champlain Parkway, citing a paradigm shift in
highway safety, environmental justice, and water quality law since the proposed road was
last publicly evaluated by federal and state regulators ten years ago.

Federal and state highway design laws changed in 2012, making safety for vehicles,
bicyclists and pedestrians the top priority. The Champlain Parkway uses older highway
designs that Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) documents say are significantly less safe.

FHWA Proven Safety Countermeasures and Vermont’s Complete Street Laws adopted
in the last decade require safety first,” says Tony Redington, leader of the Pine Street
Coalition and retired Vermont and New Hampshire transportation planner. “Roadway
elements like roundabouts, which reduce serious accidents by 90%, and dedicated cycle tracks which make biking a safe, environmentally sound transportation option, are not part the Champlain Parkway’s outdated design. Failure to re-evaluate the Parkway in light of current knowledge and law about highway safety will, quite simply, costs lives.”

Since the last public hearing on the Parkway in 2006, Burlington’s South End has
become one of Burlington’s most vibrant communities, filled with restaurants, breweries,
new housing, shops, and a growing technology enclave and new incubator spaces. “The
Parkway design fails because it does not take into consideration today’s realities,” says
Steve Goodkind, Burlington’s former Public Works Director who has joined the Pine Street

Coalition’s efforts. “The Parkway would cut off the Pine Street corridor, and prevent planned future development in the City’s Enterprise Zone,” Goodkind added.

The Parkway would also bisect the Maple-King Street neighborhood, which is one of
Burlington’s poorest and most diverse communities. “Federal laws adopted in the last ten
years require environmental justice review to ensure that the voices of affected residents
are heard in the planning process,” says South End resident and community development
expert Dr. Charles Simpson. The Pine Street Coalition cites a lack of agency outreach, as well as an absence of aesthetic and noise impact analysis in the Maple-King Street community.

The South End 2.3 mile Parkway costing an estimated $43.1 million remains a vestige
of the four-lane roadway thinking of the 1960s. The plan for a Burlington ring road now
long abandoned included the Parkway super highway rammed through the waterfront
and Old North End.

If the Federal and State agencies do not re-open the environmental review process
within 90 days, the Pine Street Coalition says it will file action in federal court this summer.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Pine Street Coalition--Major Event--Tuesday April 3

The Pine Street Coalition has a major announcement set for Tuesday April 3 presenting a major push for a re-design of the Champlain Parkway involving current best practices and safety designs, allowing the residents and businesses today to craft a roadway needed for these times, responding to changes in the community and numerous major law and regulation changes--from the Vermont Complete Streets Act to new noise regulations, new best practices for separate walk and bike facilities designs (including roundabouts and cycle track), and avoidance of costly highway which damages the environment and requires regular upkeep.   

Pine Street Coalition History

The Pine Street Coalition is a non-profit grass roots community organization advocating safe transportation facilities in the Burlington South End. The Coalition seeks “equality streets” where each transportation mode—pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle—enjoys separate and high-safety treatments on major streets. The Coalition recognizes the United States now ranks 17th among modern nations with twice the rate of serious and fatal injuries of the top two nations. The Coalition pursues safe streets employing the principles of “systematic safety” so that the South End can enjoy a level of transportation safety attained by many advanced nations.

An Outline of the Origin and Mission of the Pine Street Coalition

The mission of the Pine Street Coalition is re-design of the Champlain Parkway by re-opening a new EIS process in order to incorporate “best practices” of today which include: (1) re-directing the “purpose and need” to meeting the needs of the South End neighborhood and away from facilitating the movement of cars to downtown: (2) reducing instead of increasing the number of roadway injuries to residents and visitors; (3) decreasing the environmental impacts, particularly in regard to the stressed Englesby Brook; (4) provision of separate and equal facilities for those who walk and bike along the corridor; and (5) utilize modern roundabouts to reduce injury rates to all users, cut global warming emissions and other pollutants, reduce gasoline use, reduce delay for all users, manage speeds and thereby reduce noise levels and add scenic quality.

2014—Discussion of the major walk and bike defects in the Champlain Parkway design began in Spring 2014 at a Burlington Walk Bike Coalition Steering Committee (BWBC) meeting when Local Motion's Jason Van Driesche reported examining the Parkway plans along Pine Street and Lakeside Avenue and found no cycle track or separate walk and bike facilities. This led to a several month discussion at BWBC leading to a December 2014 eight-page letter and detailed comments sent to the Mayor requesting safe, quality and separate walk and bike facilities along the entire corridor. In addition a roundabout to maintain connectivity at the south end of Pine Street as well as roundabouts at other intersections should be considered. The BWBC received no reply to its letter. BWBC is an official City committee comprised of all volunteers and supported by the Department of Public Works.

In September 2014 a three-day workshop on a “livable South End” put on by AARP centered on examining Pine Street and making substantial walk and bike improvements with the leader, Dan Burden calling for use of a roundabouts along the corridor and the workshop Report showing roundabout options at the Pine and Maple Street intersection, vetted by a top roundabout practitioner, Michael J. Wallwork who designed the first Vermont roundabouts in 1995 and 1997. During this period there was discussion among the volunteer Vermont AARP Livable Community members about forming a coalition of City groups with the sole purpose of pursuing a modern, quality re-designed Parkway.

2015—June 16 Public meeting where draft planBTV South End. The draft planBTV South End brought a full house of area residents and leaders. Early on a question audience expressed frustration that the draft plan assumed the construction of the Parkway as designed--”Who here supports the Champlain Parkway,” a woman in the audience in effect exclaimed—“if you support it please raise your hand!” Not a hand among the 100-plus attendees was seen. The plan received such a bad reception, a redraft process began with approaches for a future with—and without—the Parkway as designed. This triggered Super Alliance members—many from the South End and/or with businesses or employment there to seek to build on the Walk Bike Council opposition and the lack of current “best practices”--like roundabouts and cycle track just approved in the North Avenue Corridor Plan approved by City Council in October 2014. The planBTV South End draft plan presentation can be viewed on CH 17:

The Burlington Free Press coverage of the draft planBTV South End is found here:

In August, the Vermont Supreme Court decided against Charles Bayer and his Fortieth Corp. Act 250 appeal which cleared the way for the Parkway project to proceed. Also in August 2015 a citizen group calling itself the Super Alliance agreed to support form a separate group, the Pine Street Coalition (PSC) with its purpose to seek a re-design of the Parkway including the BWBC issues of walk and bike facilities, roundabouts, and introducing other “best practices.” The Super Alliance became in March 2016 the Coalition for a Livable City, an umbrella group now composed of seven grassroots community organizations, including the Pine Street Coalition.

Here is an email message from Super Alliance leader Genese Grill which references the Champlain Parkway as a concern of the Alliance and suggesting the formation of a sub-group, the Pine Street Coalition.

 Sun, Aug 23, 2015 at 9:09 AM, genese grill <> wrote:
Hello All, 
There is so much here. A few messages back Tony suggested a sub committee of S.A. [Super Alliance] to discuss the parkway resistance planning before September 2nd. I think this is a good idea so that the Super Alliance meeting can discuss general strategies and not get swamped with these important and urgent details about the Parkway (especially since we are inviting people from other groups). I personally am having trouble keeping up with the parkway stuff, want to be informed and involved, but can't devote as much time/expertise as some of you are doing. Can you make a parkway committee meeting and then present a short summary of what is happening at the Super Alliance meeting? Does that make sense? 
Thanks! -Genese [Grill]

2015—November 30 public meeting at Champlain Elementary School. One of the first grassroots actions of PSC was to do a literature drop in the South End to encourage attendance at the November 30 public meeting where no one was allowed to speak and it was “informational” only. The 7 Days report:

2016--Champlain Parkway—first Pine Street Coalition (PSC) Presentation, February 3, 2016 at Arts Riot. Channel 17 video: With about 75 attending, presenters included Charles Simpson, Tony Redington, Steve Goodkind and Diane Gayer. Introduction by Betsy Rosenbluth.

2016--Champlain Parkway “Let's Do it Right” December 8, 2016. PSC promoted “neighborhood meeting” featuring re-design guidelines with about 80 attending including Southern District City Councilor Joan Shannon and Ward 5 Councilor Chip Mason as well as DPW Director Chapin Spencer.
Channel 17 video:

The Burlington Walk Bike Council in a May 2016 letter addressed to Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger endorsed the PSC re-design guidelines which call for separate and safe corridor length walk and bike facilities as well as a maintaining connectivity of Pine Street into South Burlington.

2015-2017 The PSC undertook a series of meetings with City, region, State and Federal Highway Administration officials outlining the changes which have occurred since the 2009 FSEIS and end of public involvement in 2006--and urging the a new planning and design process which would be “cheaper, cleaner, quicker and safer.” A delegation of PSC members met with Vermont Secretary of Transportation Joe Flynn, Federal Highway Administration Division Director Matthew Hake, Lt. Governor David Zuckerman, State Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) Chair Andy Montroll (and a Burlington's representative to the CCRPC), and Senate Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Dick Mazza.

Throughout the discussions and community input, we have found strong support from the outset to enable intercept lots below Pine Street in the Kmart area or beyond for park-and-ride services serving downtown Burlington or the simple extension of the existing Pine Street GMT bus route. In addition the future may well hold a light rail north-south from the New North End via downtown and Union Station to Queen City Park road and points south in South Burlington. Both would face substantial costs if Pine Street is dead-ended as in the current project.

In addition, the PSC has maintained a regular effort to meet with Neighborhood Planning Assemblies to keep them posted on contacts and materials developed since the first February presentation at Arts Riot in February 2016. Members of the PSC “presentation team” include Tony Redington, Dr. Charles Simpson, Ib Nar, Diane Gayer, A.I.A, and Steve Goodkind, P.E.