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.