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 “Right-Build” Roadway
https://www.facebook.com/SSBPineStreetNOW Stop! Reevaluate! Redesign: the Champlain Parkway
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- 25 August 2020
ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE: Residents Blast City for Champlain Parkway Harm to Maple-King Community
The City of Burlington's obsolete Champlain Parkway project is under fire
for the disproportionate harm it would cause low-income and minority residents by increasing traffic and accidents in the Maple-King neighborhood.
The City “malignantly ignores the affected low-income community, marginalizes the affected minority community and fails to consider public
health impacts and the quality of neighborhood character,” according to comments filed Monday by the Pine Street Coalition in response to the Environmental Justice report recently released by the City, VTrans and the Federal Highway Administration as part of the project's federal environmental review.
At the heart of the issue is the Maple-King neighborhood. The City's report stated that the community has only a few more minority residents than the Burlington average. But according to CCV statistics professor Miriam Dash, the City only used broad-brush estimated data for the full Census Tract which covers a large area, from the waterfront to Flynn Avenue.
"Using the entire [Census] Tract 10 as representative of Maple-King dilutes the significant presence of the minority population and does not accurately represent the demographics of the neighborhood," Dash writes in the comments submitted by the Pine Street Coalition. “ Minority residents represents 24.2% of this neighborhood."
Employing statistical hocus locus to bulldoze over concerns in low-income and Black neighborhoods is an unfortunate pattern of American history which has once again been brought to bear, according to Champlain College professor of Race and Media Lionel Beasley. "The minority community of the Maple-King neighborhood has been diluted by addition and thus negated," he writes.
The City's highway project would reduce traffic in the more affluent area between Flynn and Home avenues by 52% to 72% by opening the bypass
around the neighborhood. Vehicles would then return to Pine Street and Lakeside, and traffic between Maple and King streets would increase by 37%, according to the City's report. The project would also convert the present four- way-stops -- the most common type of intersection in Burlington's residential neighborhoods -- to traffic lights.
"Adding traffic signals at two King Maple intersections increases speeds, rates of pedestrian injuries and pedestrian delay—disproportionately harming King Maple minority and low income residents” said the Coalition's Tony Redington, a retired transportation policy planner for the State of Vermont. The danger is even greater as about 30% of the residents of the Maple-King community lack access to cars and so depend on walking, bikes, and public transit. Redington pointed out that US pedestrian deaths have increased 50% in the past decade, and that African-American pedestrians die at twice the rate of white pedestrians--a public health risk that Burlington has chosen to ignore, despite the City's recent declaration of racism as a public health emergency.
Environmental justice guidelines requiring outreach to low-income and minority populations, but the ability to access and comment on the report was much more difficult than for most environmental impact study documents. “With no prior warning, a voluminous document was issued only in digital form," said Steve Goodkind, a Coalition leader and former director of the Burlington Department of Public Works. “In the middle of a pandemic the public is given 45 days to comment, no hard copies were made available, even at City Hall or the library.”
The Coalition lawsuit appealing the $47 million Parkway at U.S. District Court filed in June 2019 triggered the Environmental Justice review. The Pine Street Coalition has called for a cooperative approach to redesign the Champlain Parkway to a “right build” project to save money and insure a safe, quality transportation investment beneficial to the South End neighborhood and City.
(1) Pine Street Coalition August 24, 2020 filing
(2) Pine Street Coalition “New Street” approach released during the pandemic period
Tony Redington 343-6616