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$90M Job Winds Way Through VT State Legislature

Wed January 31, 2001 - Northeast Edition
Stephen Seitz

Vermont’s Chittenden County Circumferential Highway, an ambitious $90-million project intended to alleviate traffic pressure around the city of Burlington, is now winding its way through the state Legislature.

“It’s in the proposed capital construction budget for 2002,” said Rich Ranaldo, the project manager for the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VAOT). “It’s being debated in the state Legislature right now.”

The partially completed project was established in 1982, when Congress allocated $50 million for it in demonstration funds. It is intended to redistribute traffic in the northern and eastern arteries for the Burlington area, affecting the towns of Essex, Williston and Colchester. The project also is intended to use existing radial highway capacity more efficiently. Once it is completed, it will be a 15.8-mi. (25 km) long limited access two-lane (and two-way) highway, with climbing lanes on a four-lane right-of-way.

The state took the project over in 1986, when it became part of the state highway system. Highway location planning and environmental review was completed in August of that year.

The Essex portion of the project — relocating Susie Wilson Road and reconstructing about 4 mi. (6.4 km) of highway between VT Routes 117 and 2A —was opened to the driving public in October 1993. This leaves 3.8 mi. (6 km) of VT Route 117 to Interstate 89 in Williston, 3.7 mi. (5.9 km) of Interstate 89 to VT 2A in Colchester, 3.7 mi. (5.9 km) of VT Route 127 to Interstate 89, also in Colchester, to be completed.

All necessary rights-of-way (169 acres) have been acquired for the Williston segment and construction will be stretched over two seasons, starting in 2002. That will cost $40.4 million, according to VAOT’s estimate.

Construction of the Route 117 segment in Colchester is expected to begin in about three years. The rights-of-way have been acquired for 106 acres, and this portion is expected to cost $33 million.

For the other Colchester segment, construction is not expected to begin for about four years. Three years is needed to update plans, secure the remaining environmental permits and finish acquiring property; 23 of the 120 acres needed have been acquired so far. This portion of the project is expected to cost $17.5 million.

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