Sunday, April 3, 2022

Parkway Update: Lawsuit, Racial Equity Dismissed, Price Doubles, Innovation Center Joins Lawsuit

 

 Pine Street Parkway US District Court Lawsuit Begins,
     Finally, May16

City Ignores King Maple Neighborhood Certified
      Community of Color with Zero Change in Parkway     
      Blatant Environmental Injustice Design After
      Almost 3 Years Public Review

City Quietly Puts Parkway to Bid—Only One Bid  
     Received Two Weeks Ago, About Doubles the
     Overall VTrans/City Estimated Total from $30
     million to as much as $60 million! (Yes, Pine Street
     RIGHTway would cut project construction costs by
     about one quarter!)

Fortieth Burlington, LLC Owner of Major Lakeside
     Office Complex, Innovation Center, joins Pine
     Street in Litigation at Vermont’s US District Court


April 2, 2022


Good Day Pine Street Grassroots Members:

Please note recent highlights as the Champlain Parkway moves from an almost three year delay to apply new Environmental  Justice regulations (not a whisker of change in the harmful Parkway design!) to the Pine Street US District Court lawsuit filed June 6, 2019 (D-Day).  And the apparent ill-timed rush to Parkway construction by the Mayor Weinberger administration. The one bid received March 18 signals a doubling of estimated construction costs!  The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and VTrans estimates of $30 million for construction based on a partial Parkway construction bid of $40.1 million suggests construction costs doubling to about $60 million!

If you have not yet signed the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance petition to support our joint Champlain RIGHTway, please take a moment to visit the petition site provided at the end of this message.  And continue to encourage our City Councilors and Legislative representatives to push for the exciting RIGHTway and its benefits (and save up to 25% of the construction estimate!) instead of the current harmful to the South End design!

When asked the question of who makes the decisions on the Parkway, one is reminded of a conversation between then former Secretary of Transportation Sue Minter following a campaign appearance in her campaign for governor when she told Pine Street leader Jack Daggitt in response to questions about the Parkway design, she responded simply “this is a City project!”  Minter herself is said to have nixed roundabouts in the project in a 2015 meeting.  Still, the point she makes is the Mayor of Burlington is the key person in decisions making regarding the Champlain Parkway.  The Parkway is a City project!!

    Tony Redington
        Walk Safety Advocate
    for the Pine Street Coalition


 


Pine Street Parkway US District Court Lawsuit Begins,
     Finally, May16


Grassroots volunteer Pine Street Coalition (Coalition) filed at US District Court here in Burlington on D-Day June 6, 2019 with the purpose of stopping the obsolete, harmful Champlain Parkway design and obtaining a re-design which responds to safety for all modes, addresses climate change, and most important, relieves not adds to the overburden for King Maple neighborhood.  The City now opposes and always has the current design cutting in two the now certified community of color King Maple and adding 22-37% more traffic and installing two injury generating traffic signals to an already overburdened low-income, community of color area.  

Now the plaintiffs, Pine Street and Fortieth Burlington, LLC, Innovation Center owner face off with the City, VTrans and Federal Highway Administration with first legal brief filings due by May 16.   

City Ignores King Maple Neighborhood Certified
      Community of Color with Zero Change in Parkway     
      Blatant Environmental Injustice Design After Almost 3
      Years Public Review

It remains puzzling after almost three years and a unanimous strong public hearing opposition and comments against the Parkway cutting through the now certified King Maple neighborhood as a community of color—just why not a whisker of design change in this overburdened neighborhood where 32% of residents have no car access and are pedestrian dependent?

A major change this year is the National Roadway Safety Strategy document from the US Department of Transportation (January 2022)

https://www.transportation.gov/NRSS

This policy document calls for a “Safe System Approach” and “Safe System Intersections” (primarily roundabouts) to transport funding to address “preventable” serious and fatal roadway injuries—there are at least 21,000 preventable fatalities each year on US roads, about 30 in Vermont.  (US plunged from first in world road safety in 1990 to18th today, ped deaths up 51% since 2010 with two recorded in Burlington.)

The new national strategy expressly makes both racial/low-income equity and climate change the two vital companion objectives in safety spending. The National Roadway Safety Strategy ties directly to 2021 Executive Orders https://www.transportation.gov/NRSS/SafetyEquityClimate  EO 13985 on Equity and EO 14008 on Climate Change.

It is difficult to conceive of a roadway investment in Vermont which could be more damaging to racial and low income equity and the climate than the current design of the Champlain Parkway!

City Quietly Puts Parkway to Bid—Only One Bid  
     Received Two Weeks Ago, About Doubles the
     Overall VTrans/City Estimated Total from $30 million to
     as much as $60 million! (Yes, Pine Street RIGHTway
     would cut project construction costs by about one
     quarter!)


On March 18, Burlington opened the one bid for construction of just part of the Champlain Parkway between Main Street and Home Avenue—that bid, reportedly $40.1 million alone exceeds the $30 million City estimates on the books for about three years.  The $40.1 million when added some time in the future of the balance of the Parkway from Shelburne Rd to Home Ave (“Road to Nowhere”) means the current Parkway design will double to about $60 million the current estimates.  

This number also calls into question the $20 million estimate for the Railroad Enterprise Project (REP) which just about all in the City favor being built first to bypass the King Maple neighborhood already overburdened with traffic, pollution, and social disruption of high traffic volumes.  The City is responsible for 100% of REP costs over $20 million.

Some say the Weinberger administration ill-timed bid maneuver was to avoid facing the court challenge and avoid a possible injunction stopping construction.  That occurred at US District Court in the Circumferential Highway lawsuit when VTrans let contracts followed by the Court rejected the environmental document and the project died—same issue here with the Parkway?  

Fortieth Burlington, LLC Owner of Major Lakeside Office
     Complex, Innovation Center, joins Pine Street in

     Litigation at Vermont’s US District Court


It is news that the owner of Innovation Center on Lakeside Avenue took action recently to also oppose at US District Court the current Parkway design and seek a quality, modern South End transport facility which is safe, addresses climate change (Efficiency Vermont was a longtime tenant) and corrects the overburden for the low-income and community of color King Maple neighborhood.
Pine Street and Innovation Center have worked closely in the past in regulatory and State courts to obtain a responsible Parkway design.

Attached please note a simple example of a street, a dedicated bikeway, and sidewalk.  This is the type of design Pine Street and Vermont Racial Justice Alliance call for between Queen City Park Rd to Home Avenue and from Home Avenue to Flynn Ave.  It is the RIGHTway!  It is “doing it right the first time!”

Please stay safe!

    Yours truly,


    Tony Redington
    for the Pine Street Coalition

 


 

 

What can you do?

Sign the Stop the Champlain Parkway Project and Choose the Champlain RIGHTway Petition: http://chng.it/tS9Ts5FjDx   SafeStreetsBurlington.com

 

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