Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Parkway Dead in Water -- Environmental Document Rescinded




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 19, 2019  
Contacts:
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 wins a round against the Champlain 
Parkway as federal officials rescind the environmental document stopping all
further expenditures and significantly delaying construction. 


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on October 11 in the Federal Register 
cancels the 2009 Parkway environmental document in part to allow 
“environmental justice” examination under new regulations, agreeing with the grass
roots Pine Street Coalition (Coalition) that regulations adopted since 2009 must now
focus on the low income/minority King Maple neighborhood Parkway impacts.  


“No  funds can be spent on the Parkway without an environmental document is in
place,” said Tony Redington, a Coalition leader.   He said in a FHWA November 8
filing with U.S. District Court (Court) in Burlington delays any further actions at Cour until early January and FHWA promises a decision at that time of a further delay of 
up to three months.


“Environmental justice” rules say a finding of a disproportionate impact of a federal
highway project on a low income/minority neighborhood requires minimizing 
those impacts.  The Coalition charges last year and in its June Court filing
detailed disproportionate impacts of the Parkway on the King Maple neighborhood.
Because no environmental justice case in a small state like Vermont has occurred,
the Parkway review is being done by a panel in the U.S. Department of
Transportation.  Former City Engineer and Department of Public Works Director
Steve Goodkind, a Coalition leader, said the City strongly objected to the Pine
Street route though the King Maple neighborhood throughout.  “We fought long and
 hard on the Parkway alternatives and on our concerns of harm to the King Maple
 neighborhood from the current choice—the City advocated for the Battery Street
connection bypassing the neighborhood but FHWA would not listen,” Goodkind said.


The Coalition filed its Court case against the current Parkway in June and seeks a full
redesign of the roadway.  The grassroots group of over 150 seeks a new design 
process based on the claim the 2009 environmental document is stale, obsolete and
invalid. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Selected Comments Against Current Champlain Parkway Design--Envionmental Justice Outreach


Burlington residents speak out against the Champlain Parkway current
design: some comments submitted as part of the Environmental Justice
Outreach Meeting September 26, 2019 

Note the complete statements of these commenters below can be viewed at TonyRVT.blogspot.com 

Next Pine Street Coalition Meeting, 9:30 a.m. Wednesday October 30, Krestel Coffee (formerly Maglianero), Maple Street between So. Champlain and Battery 


Diane Elliott Gayer ...There needs to be a new EIS study.  The conditions that the engineering and landscape design are based on have dramatically changed.  There are [m]any traffic and environmental conditions that will be worse with this current plan.

1. Do NOT dead-end Pine Street at South Burlington.  Make the connection to 189 a roundabout facility.
..3. Do NOT design the Parkway for high-speed clearances and then post it for low-speed travel.  This does not work...4. End the Parkway at Flynn Avenue...5. Develop a coherent plan for King and Maple Streets before shoving more traffic through the intersections...

Carolyn Bates, Carolyn Street ...Now this project must undergo an environmental justice review. This means the project planners must show that the project will not have a disproportionate impact on low income and minority neighborhoods like mine.

I think it does have a horrifically huge discrepancy and impact. This project must be stopped NOW, and never go forward.  Look at your own projected chart on the volume of traffic in the multi page handout you gave to us.  It is on Pg  27.  Wealthy neighborhoods have a reduction of 72% and 56% in traffic.  Lakeside, with some low income people, has an increase in 9%.

Our neighborhood of King and Maple, has 37% increase at Maple St and Pine and another 22% on King and Pine. It is the second poorest neighborhood in Burlington, with 200 section 8 people, and at least 21housing projects. It also has a huge population of non-English speaking African Americans...

James Lockridge, Maple Street ...I also wish there were roundabout-style intersections at King and Maple Streets, which keep polluting vehicles moving past homes rather than idling in front of them, and are known to be safer than traffic lights for pedestrians. If any kind of roundabout fit into those intersections, it would be closer to best practices for transportation safety and neighborhood wellbeing than old fashioned traffic lights would...

Mark Hughes, ED, Burlington, Justice For All Coordinator, Vermont Racial Justice Alliance http://justiceforallvt.org...since these plans began and the adverse and disproportionate impact that this project has on one of the most diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in Burlington....We can do better and we must do it now. Stop the project and include the impacted community in planning.

Michael Long, Brookes Avenue ...With regard to the Champlain Parkway design as proposed, the projected one third increase in traffic through the King Street/Maple Street neighborhood  is incongruous and unacceptable for a project that is ostensibly intended to alleviate traffic congestion, particularly through residential neighborhoods...A 20th century road is senseless when we’re nearly two decades into the 21st century already.  

Jack Daggitt, St. Paul Street ...If a street connecting Shelburne Road and Lakeside Avenue is opened up it is foolish to think motorists will observe a 25 MPH speed limit on a smooth freshly paved surface. Without roundabouts at critical intersections we can only expect increased speed, air pollution and danger to both bicycles and pedestrians.


Shared use facilities for both bicycles and pedestrians serve the needs of neither. Bicycle need protected bike lanes not just a white stripe on a road heavily traveled by motor vehicles.

Charles Simpson, Summit Street ...New USDOT requirements include consideration of disproportionate impact on low-income and racial minority populations. The planned route will dump considerably more vehicles than at present into the Pine/Maple/King area which is well above city averages for those over 65, for racial minorities, and for low-to-moderate income residents...Our Municipal Plan calls for complete streets, which include not only separate and distinct bike and pedestrian paths, but street connectivity. The current plan for the parkway adds zero separate paths and creates dead ends on numerous streets that are now connected. The most significant of these truncated streets is the main commercial thoroughfare of the South End itself, Pine Street. This will deprive residents of essential access to the adjacent commercial district in South Burlington, including low income residents in South Meadow and will further congest Shelburne Road, making it the sole route out of the South End. Buses and emergency vehicles will be greatly limited in their routes as well as walkers, bikers, and drivers. Commercial routes from Pine Street will be cut off. This makes no sense and is retrogressive from a traffic planning perspective...

Tony Redington, North Winooski Avenue ...A closer look at King/Maple shows perfectly the direct connection between the past 30 years of highway investment and the disproportionate impacts on low income/minority populations. Our two highest proportion of low/moderate and diverse populations in the City of Burlington—the Old North End and King/Maple (both over 80% low-moderate income)—also are neighborhoods where about a third have no access to a car and therefore are dependent on walk, bicycle, and transit modes! For 30 years minority and low income areas have been neglected at all governmental levels either by design or neglect when it comes to transportation investments—the current Parkway design is the very embodiment of that practice...While residents already complain about the traffic levels and associated noise, walking discomfort and pollution, King Maple very simply must face a 29-37% increase in daily traffic as outlined in...traffic analysis...



Place to sign petition to support a new EIS/modern roadway design:


Websites: SafeStreetsBurlington.com


Note the complete statements of these commenters below can be viewed at TonyRVT.blogspot.com

Pine Street Coalition October 17, 2019

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.   

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Hannafords Gives South End a Taste of Hurtful Parkway Design Staring July 1


News Flash: “Old 'Kmart Plaza' traffic cut-through to close, Free Press June 29, page 6A. A taste of current Parkway design current South End connection via Pine Street and Queen City Park Road to S. Burlington's Kmart Plaza closes Monday July 1—Hannaford new store build closes the connection for an indefinite period. No more Pine St. connection to Kmart Plaza south to Hannafords, Lowes and Palace! Everyone ready for tripping back and forth via Shelburne Road traffic to get to those popular S. Burlngton destinations? (No news on whether those on foot and bike will find a pathway through the construction.) Parkway design now fully walls all modes from Pine Street to Queen City Park Road, Kmart Plaza etc. Note Hannfords was contacted by our Coalition and they expressed absolutely no concern about lack of access from the South End to their new store with a built Parkway. The Coalition Re-design Guidelines call for a safe Pine St./Parkway/Queen City Park roundabout.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Charles Simpson on What "Everybody Knows" About the Champlain Parkway Letter


Letter of South End Resident Charles Simpson of May 13, 2019  Representatives of the Pine Street Coalition spoke out at the CCRPC Board of Directors meeting May 15

The Champlain Parkway: To What End?

Dear Andy Montroll (Burlington representative to Chittenden County Regional Planning Board [CRPC]); Charlie Baker, CCRPC Executive Director; and Chapin Spencer, Director, Burlington Public Works:

To put it in a nutshell, the “purpose and need” justifying the construction of the Champlain Parkway is defunct. And the parkway planned to accomplish that “purpose and need” is obsolete. It’s “sell by” date is decades old. Structures from a previous era--the 19th century buildings that embellish our streetscapes--serve a purpose. They remind us of our history in an aesthetically impressive way. Utilitarian infrastructure planned in another era does not.

In the more than 20 years I’ve lived in Burlington, I’ve continually marveled at the C1 section of the Champlain Parkway [“Road to Nowhere” between Pine St. and Home Ave.], a relic of past-planning and past needs that social changes have obviated. The beltway concept that girdled so many cities with obstructions that decimated waterfront areas has been abandoned. Not just abandoned, but undone. Witness the $22 billion Boston spent on removing and replacing the elevated Southeast Expressway running through the heart of the city. Witness New Orleans’ brush with death when planners sought to level the French Quarter to make room for a beltway. Or Manhattan’s hallucinatory quest to scour out Chinatown-Little Italy, SoHo and Midtown to build elevated highways linking New Jersey with Long Island. In every case, the tunnel vision of highway planners made the same mistake: they reduced thriving communities to bits of expendable geography separating one place from another.

It appears that a new generation of highway planners here in Vermont has inherited the same set of blinders, the same narrow focus on transit rather than arrival, on locomotion rather than life-in-place.

In the words of Lenard Cohen, “Everybody Knows” the Champlain Parkway makes no sense. You know it, I’m sure. The public knows it. But for the record, let us count the ways. 1) Less rather than more traffic is what’s desired downtown, with private vehicles replaced with right-sized electric buses and bikes to the extent possible. The old suburb-to-center-city model of urban vitality is dead. 2) The South End has emerged as the city’s center of technological innovation, the arts, food entrepreneurship, and residence. It needs full-spectrum travel corridors that separate bikes. pedestrians, and cars on roadways and paths designed primarily for local use. The Champlain Parkway design throws walkers and bikers together on the same paths, puts bikers in the street in sections, and flouts the very notion of “connectivity” central to our planning mantra by severing the head off of Pine Street and separating it from So. Burlington. 3) If the challenge of our age is anything, it is about preservation of the environment. That means augmenting the drainage corridor of Englesby Brook as a natural setting able to absorb surface water rather than dump effluent into our lake. The CP [Champlain Parkway] would burry it in 200 feet of culvert, accelerating its flow, paving its banks. 4) The future accessibility of our city lies in park-and-ride infrastructure. We already recognize this with our van system to Hill institutions and private businesses. Yet the CP would carve a 150 foot swath through our enterprise zone without replacing parking there, waste up to 6 acres of what would otherwise be job-creating space, all to move cars from Home to Lakeside where it would then dump them as congestion in the center of the Enterprise Zone. Congestion and inadequate concern for safety, one might add due to a rigid fixation on signaled intersections rather than roundabouts. And at a time when the City has trouble maintaining the present street surfaces, it proposes to build two parallel roads, Briggs and the CP 2, mere yards apart and serving the same purpose.

Ah, proponents say, but this is a $43 million dollar [now $47.1 million] stimulus to the city’s construction industry, “free” federal money. Well, it’s not free if we waste 6 acres of our valuable and limited manufacturing area. It’s not free if the locality bares the cost of future maintenance and the promised “post-construction modifications” that the “limited access” design will require to be made. It’s not free if it doesn’t meet current safety standards. “Everybody knows” that Burlington shouldn’t be an adjunct to the construction or real estate industries. Shouldn’t be, but too often, is. Nor is our decision making a matter of febrile excitation, the need to just get something, anything, done. Yet, as we see with the downtown hole-in-the-mall, it often is.

Please, listen to public voices such as those of the Pine Street Coalition and reopen the planning for roads in the South End. The first step would be to delay moving ahead with CP until you have a current environmental impact statement. The second would be to open C1from Home to I-189 to serve the industrial area via a roundabout at Pine. Then rebuild Briggs to serve local needs. That’s it!

Very truly yours,
Charles Simpson, Burlington




Sunday, June 2, 2019

Action Alert -- Champlain Parkway for June 3 City Council Meeting

ACTION ALERT – CHAMPLAIN PARKWAY

Action Alert:

Please Sign the Petition! https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/governor-scott-federal

Note Governor Scott by federal law has power to stop the Parkway

  1. Contact City Councilors by email/phon, and/or attend, speak Monday, June 3 at City Council Public Forum at 7:30 pm, Contois Auditorium
    City Council members email and telephone: https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/CityCouncil
  2. Oppose $2.5 million in City taxpayer funds to pay for Parkway contaminated soil removal/disposal, $700,000 more for City share of project approaching $50 million
--City $2.5 million costs for contaminated never discussed publicly
--Mayor Weinberger pushes for entire $3.2 million spending without a word of discussion or explanation – a councilor will have to object in order for this to be discussed and voted on
--the project in addition to up to unneeded 1.5 miles/6 acres asphalt has no “best practices” roundabouts (intersection safety belt) and separate/safe walk and bike facilities
--goal: stop the project, start new blank slate environmental impact statement process driven by this generation of South Enders and BTV residents

What is at stake?

The Parkway will proceed to construction this year with only the Pine Street Coalition effort in courts able to perhaps stop this hurtful project. The project not only increases injuries to South End travelers, it destroys key connectivity to Queen City Park Road, sharply increases climate change emissions, fails to address environmental justice to our lowest income neighborhood, creates about six acres of asphalt better used for economic development and public space, has no safe entries to new Petra Cliffs and City Market, builds two rather than one quality street between Home and Flynn Avenues, and forces higher ongoing street maintenance than necessary including six new traffic signals, a long ago discredited and outmoded technology.

Goal: A new environmental impact statement process, the goal of Pine Street, starts with a clean slate in a community driven process to design a roadway our City can love! Let's do it right the first time!

This meeting is the first since the illegal public hearing on project necessity and site visit early in 2018—we were not allowed in a public hearing to speak on the merits of the Parkway!

The now decade old 2009 environmental document—340 pages—and project design harks to 1950s car centric design and when it got watered down from a four-lane divided roadway only increases injuries to South End travelers, walls off the South End from Kmart Plaza, Hannafords, etc., does not contain one inch of new separate and safe walk/bike facilities, and does not conform to literally a dozen laws and policies at all levels ranging from the Vermont Complete Streets Act (2011), the federal requirements for best safety practices (2013), and the City Transportation plan (2011) along with planBTV Walk Bike (2017).

There is not one paragraph of safety analysis in the current base Parkway document, the the Weinberger administration itself erased the one safe sidewalk in the Parkway about 2016, now to force pedestrians to share space with high speed bicycle commuters, E-bikes, and likely E-scooters. Weinberger this action makes walking and bicycling “safer” for South Enders -- in a recent year on a shared use path Lebanon-Hanover, NH a bicyclist crashed into an killed a pedestrian, a second similar crash sent pedestrian to hospital in critical condition. 

Pine Street websites: SafeStreetsBurlington.com https://www.facebook.com/SSBPineStreetNOW/


Parkway items 5.18 and 5.19 set to be approved on the “consent agenda” without discussion.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

$3.2 Million More City Money for Shamplain Parkway at June 3 Meeting--Developments This Month

Good Day Parkway Community:

As many of you know the Pine Street Coalition leadership decided last week to go forward now to appeal the administrative decision by federal officials this month allowing the current Parkway design to go to construction. We anticipate being in federal court to try to stop the project construction early next month by addressing the  base project documents as stale, invalid, obsolete, and past usable date. 
Seven Days provides a rather one-sided report this week on the project: https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2019/05/20/champlain-parkway-construction-could-begin-by-years-end

Pine Street leaders first stated this action last Wednesday at Chittenden Country Regional Planning Commission Board of Directors meeting. You can view the statements of Pine Streeters Tony Redington, Charles Daggitt, Carolyn Bates, and Steve Goodkind at https://www.cctv.org/watch-tv/programs/chittenden-county-regional-planning-commission-87#   Start at 1:53 minutes, the public forum.   Considerable background and history for the "Shamplain Parkway" as is gets addressed.

One interesting new fact from documents obtained from the Federal Highway Administration recently is the revision of the project in 2015-2016 when we are told by Mayor Weinberger pedestrian and bicyclist improvements were made.  In fact, the design at that time which did have a sidewalk on the west side of Pine Street from Lakeside Avenue to Kilburn St./Curtis Lumber was removed and the project now forces pedestrians to share a path with high speed bicyclists, E-bikes and E-scooters. This design change obviously degrades project for those on foot, and adds stress and higher injury rates to those who walk!

Our Pine Street re-design guidelines specifically endorsed by the BTV Walk Bike Council in 2016 feature both a sidewalk and an off-street bike path (properly lit and maintained for year round use) the length of Pine Street from Queen City Park Road along the Parkway route to Kilburn/Curtis Lumber.  Among other obvious changes all can support in redesign: (1) a safe and separate roundabout entry our new City Market and Petra Cliffs; (2) one quality street instead of two between Home and Flynn Avenues; (3) keeping connectivity for all modes between the bottom of Pine Street and Queen City Park Road/KMart Plaza which is permanently severed by the current design; and (4) converting new injury generating signalized intersections to roundabouts which in Vermont downtowns in a half century of testing recorded not a single bicycle crash, just one minor pedestrian injury, and four minor injuries to car occupants--overall just one injury per roundabout per decade compared to the 17 mostly BTV signalized intersections generating an average of one injury a year! Geico, AAA, AARP and FHWA today call for roundabouts first and converting signals to roundabouts with a resulting about 90% decrease in serious injuries and fatalities.
Of course the traffic signals and wasted construction of up to 1.5 lane miles of asphalt build in decades of climate emissions increase versus our City's Climate Action Plan calling for decreases which in this case means less roadway and emission reducing roundabouts. 

The City now proposes to spend another $3.2 million City tax dollars for the Parkway—much of this could be avoided with a reduced design. The June 3 City Council meeting will be asked to approve this money. Please consider attending this meeting as it is really an opportunity for this generation's voice to be heard on this project---the last public hearing on the Parkway was in 2006, a year before the first iPhone and the first protected bike lane (cycle track) network built in a North American community, Montreal. 

You can help in several ways—sign the online petition (address below), attend the June 3 city council meeting, and/or contact your city council member.    


Monday, April 22, 2019

Yes We Can: Winooski Avenue--Burlington's Greatest Street

The current North and South Winooski Ave corridor study seemed at first a challenging triage of a congested, narrow roadway--now it appears the Winooskis really can reach through flexible and unique design its deserving historic role as Burlington's "Greatest Street."

The Winooski Corridor Study may very well achieve a "yes, we can" outstanding urban pathway:
Yes we can--cut carefully some parking which takes away from green space and safe walking-bicycling accommodation.  Yes, we can--serve the neighborhoods first and through traffic second in providing safe walking and bicycling for all ho can (see photo of sidewalk level cycle track applicable from Riverside to the north to at least Main Street).  Yes we can--employ the core safe best practices on our streets--the "intersection safety belt" roundabout and the safe for all ages and skills cycle track (protected bike lanes).  Yes we can--eliminate parking on at least one side of the street except for the central area (Archibald-North Streets) shifting the space to green and bike space use.  And, yes we can: provide a green strip throughout the corridor.  And, finally, yes we can:  strengthen and rejuvenate both the businesses and residential neighborhoods into a more sustainable and livable context.


Sidewalk level "cycle track" shifts the purpose of bike lanes to serving the needs of the neighborhood cyclists to access nearby businesses services and friends--this leaves the through cyclist to a secondary position, still retaining the skilled rider to the vehicle travelways.    Suddenly, all who can--young, old, and in between regardless of skill can bicycle--now only about 10% of the Burlington population bikes much at all.  This photo from Kyoto taken in October.


The intersections?  Again as in the North Avenue Corridor Plan (2014) the all-modes intersections safety belt, is the obvious choice.  (Recent public opinion surveys show about 75% of Americans favor replacing dangerous intersections with roundabouts--plus this is a priority change for GEICO, AAA, AARP and federal highway officials.)

Here is a 2011AARP Pine Street workshop photo from the report recommending roundabouts from stop to bottom of Pine Street in the South End, this engineering base design at Pine and Maple Streets.


Roundabouts  (all one way) are feasible at all the key intersections--they are not only safe (reduced pedestrian/vehicle injuries by about 90% and reduce bicyclists injuries) but the roundabout also cuts delay for all, cuts green house gas emissions by thousands of gallons of gas at busy intersections each year.  In the case of the Winooskis all intersections adjacent to the Marketplace (Pearl, Cherry, Bank, College and Main) are among the "Dirty 17"  City intersections averaging one injury a year--and add North Street/N. Winooski to that list. 

So, the "Greatest Burlington Street"?  Yes, the sacred Winooskis with the historic library and Fire Station, the main access to the City's shopping street (the Marketplace), location of the highest grossing co-op market in America, and the home to the lowest income Old North End neighborhood, the main avenue for the original trolley line from the waterfront to the Winooski manufacturing complexes--yes, the City's Greatest Street!  YES WE CAN!!




Monday, April 8, 2019

Winooski Corridor Study Thoughts Applicable to Obsolete Parkway Design

There follows a number of concepts, cross section alternatives, and areas to seriously explore based on the Winooski Corridor Study advisory committee meeting last week, some discussions with residents and business owners north of Pearl along the corridor and the comment by a consultant team member regarding sidewalk level cycle track. This thoughts almost all directly apply and show why the Champlain Parkway current design is obsolete and environmental document dating a decade ago is no longer valid.
Some Principles and Thoughts Overall
Some key principles and thoughts in considering roundabouts and sidewalk level cycle track in redesign of any busy, urban, all modes street:
  1. “Equality street” is the fundamental principle to be followed—highest level of safety and service for walk, bike, and vehicle modes.
  2. Parking is the least economic use of the street right-of-way (BTV residential parking study)
  3. If retaining parking in a re-design results in significant extra costs to retain a bicycle facility (cycle track, bikeway, etc.), sidewalk and some green strip, then those costs are ascribable to parking as it is an expenditure required to enable parking, not the bike transportation facility. 
  4. One of the key benefits of a single lane roundabout in a narrow urban intersection (or converting to a roundabout) is the fact that roundabouts on all approaches require no turn lanes and generally move crosswalks about a car length away from the vehicle traffic area—this results in documented gains of considerable space which can be allocated to green space, adjacent business space, pedestrian space, accommodation of bicyclists, and even, yes, parking spaces. (Keck Circle in Montpelier freed up space, once used for a turn lane, on the adjacent Worcester Branch Bridge, allowing 3-4 parking spaces.
  5. VT Complete Streets Law requires not just consideration of walk and bike in any transportation investment, but “safe” accommodation! That one word safe almost orders safety/facility treatments like cycle track and roundabouts which cut serious and fatal injuries for both walk and bike modes by a substantial amount.
  6. Unlike signals and stop signs, a roundabout enables pedestrian movement as a priority with almost no delay and pedestrians deal with traffic traveling in only one direction at a time with the presence of a median treatment.
  7. Green New Deal--Climate change dictates two elements for the Winooski corridor: (a) use of roundabouts which cut climate change emissions about 30% at busy intersections; and (b) provision of active transportation, a must for built up urban areas/corridors.
  8. The Winooski Corridor is not primarily a through-corridor for bicycle and pedestrian transportation, but really a series of sections of street where the predominant role is to serve the trips of the neighborhood to and from substantial trip generators—mostly to, from, and via the Riverside-Marketplace and Pearl-Main related sections. 
  9. Our design work take place in a nation and state which has systematically ignored safety a concern for streets and highways leading to the U.S. sinking from first to 20thsince 1990 with 22,000 excess deaths today compared to the fatality rates achieved by the top four nations including our once co-number one, the UK.
  10. Burlington in 2014 adopted one of the first “equality streets” plan, the North Avenue Corridor Plan, which converts key intersections from unsafe traffic signals to safe roundabout and provides cycle track from end to end. 
  11. Safety achievements of other nations generally has begun through a comprehensive “systematic safety” plan and program ranging from licensing, education, enforcement and street design. Our design must reflect “best practices” for safety. 
Two issues emerged from the March 26 PAC meeting of significance: (1) questioning taking parking away from North Winooski, particularly along the mixed residential/commercial sections Riverside-Decatur/N. Union with its two-way traffic and Decatur/N. Union to North Street now southbound traffic only; and (2) a brief mention of cycle track (protected bike lane) placement at sidewalk level or a level midway between sidewalk and road level.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Be Careful Out There! Data shows one bicyclist/pedestrian and two car occupants injured weekly in BTV!

Be careful out there!! Based on 2013-2017 roadway crash data an average of one bicyclist or pedestrian is injured each week in BTV plus two car occupants. So about 50 bicycle/pedestrian injuries occur each year, 100 motor vehicle occupants injuries--150 overall. One fatality occurs on BTV streets every 5-6 years--last six three pedestrians, two drivers, and one cyclist with all but one fatal at one of the City's 75 signalized intersections. Roundabouts cut serious and fatal injuries on average 90%. Cycle track on street sections provide separate and safe accommodation of cyclists between busy intersections.

Safety First! Winooski Draft Material Mirrors Pine Street Re-Design Approach


Clear that Winooski Transportation Corridor Study places safety first! Great news! Winooski study draft plan material adopts Pine Street Coalition Re-design elements for a beneficial Champlain Parkway and basics of the North Avenue Corridor Plan (2014): roundabouts at busy intersections and cycle track end to end. Thank you Winooski Corridor planners! Time now to re-design a proper scale Parkway to incorporate safety and climate change best practices of today not those of 2006! Like the Winooski draft and North Avenue Plan--safe and separate walk and bike facilities and the "intersection safety belt", the roundabout, at busy intersections.

See https://www.ccrpcvt.org/our-work/transportation/current-projects/corridors-circulation/winooski-avenue-corridor-study/#documents Check out the four "Alternatives"

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Three Parkway Tweets--Sully on Safety First, $3.28 Million Contaminated Soils, Climate Change

Hero pilot Sully Sullenberger Saturday on 737 Max 8 crashes: “quality and safety pay for themselves...always better & cheaper to get it right than repair the damage after..." Re-design Champlain Pkwy. group targets no safe walk/bike facilities, no safe intersections


Tweet March 17
BTV facing $3.28 million taxpayer bill for Parkway contaminated soils—figure City Engineer Baldwin revealed at CCRPC Board last month? He says construction start 2019--Pine Street Coalition safety re-design cuts $43 million cost ~$8 million, likely soils too.

The fight to re-design the Champlain Parkway here in BTV from the start included climate change—absence of separate and safe walk and bike facilities, half mile of unneeded street, 1,000s of gallons gas wasted yearly at intersections. Safety 1st of course.