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Burlington, Vt., City Council Finally OKs Contract to Build Champlain Parkway

Wed April 27, 2022 - Northeast Edition
The City of Burlington & Seven Days

At its meeting April 25, the Burlington City Council unanimously approved a $45 million contract to build the first phase of the Champlain Parkway, a landmark moment in the decades-long effort to get the Vermont roadway built.

The announcement was made in a news statement from the office of Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

The project was stuck in limbo for 35 years after construction had begun before its entire funding could be secured for completion.

When the two-lane project is finished, set for 2027, the effort will improve traffic circulation, alleviate overburdened roadways, protect Lake Champlain through enhanced stormwater management, and improve vehicular, bike and pedestrian safety in the southwest section of the city, according to Weinberger's news release.

The sole bidder for the $45 million project, which includes $4 million in contingency costs, was Williston, Vt.-based S.D. Ireland Brothers and Kubricky Construction, from Wilton, N.Y. Their joint bid came in nearly $14.5 million higher than initial estimates, likely due to inflation and the war in Ukraine, which has driven up energy costs, according to Seven Days, an online Vermont news source.

The 2.8-mi.-long, 25-mph Champlain Parkway will begin at the Interstate 189 interchange on Shelburne Road, run north from Home to Lakeside avenues, then east onto Pine Street, where it would extend up to Main.

Initial work this summer will focus on project segments off Pine Street to coordinate construction with the Shelburne Street Roundabout project, as Pine Street is a key detour for the roundabout. Scheduled to end in October 2024, this part of the project will not make a new connection to the interstate highway system and, therefore, is not projected to increase overall traffic in the area, the release said.

By phasing construction of the Champlain Parkway, the Weinberger administration and city council said it can work with the public in the future to decide when the community is ready for the second phase of the project that will make the interstate connection.

The second and final phase is planned for 2025 through 2027 and will be coordinated with other Burlington South End projects through the South End Construction Coordination Plan, minimizing impacts on residents and businesses.

City Fought Hard to Get Parkway Project Moving Again

Funding for the Champlain Parkway project comes primarily from the federal government, which is contributing 95 percent of the cost. The State of Vermont will pay 3 percent, with Burlington responsible for the remaining 2 percent.

Weinberger's office explained that the city will also handle certain related costs outside of the federal project scope such as development soils, landscaping and decorative lighting.

"It has been 35 years since this project stopped mid-construction, and it has been a major, unresolved issue in this community ever since," he said in the statement. "Since taking office, I have been committed to securing an effective resolution to this multi-decade challenge. To achieve that resolution, for a decade we have worked to dramatically improve the design and functionality of the new roadway, add critical bike and pedestrian safety improvements, secure state and federal support for a second major project — the Railyard Enterprise Project — and more. I am grateful to our city team, and our committed state and federal partners who got us to tonight, and to the City Council for [its] careful engagement and unanimous support."

Burlington's Department of Public Works Director Chapin Spencer added, "Through the successful efforts of multiple administrations and multiple councils, the project has evolved from a four-lane, high-speed highway into a new two-lane city street with extensive bike, pedestrian and stormwater improvements. Thank you to Vermont Agency of Transportation [VTrans] and the Federal Highway Administration for supporting this work."

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