VT Highway Construction Delay Affecting at Least 40 Workers

Mon May 10, 2004 - National Edition

BURLINGTON, VT (AP) The latest delay in building the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway is affecting at least 40 would-be construction workers.

Contractor J.A. McDonald is holding off on hiring more employees to build the highway until the state gives the go-ahead to begin work in earnest. Construction is delayed until a federal judge rules on an appeal of the project by a handful of environmental groups.

The so-called “Circ” is planned to run 16 mi. around Burlington, from Williston through Essex to Colchester.

“We did get approval to do a certain amount of work,” said Jeff Darling, a McDonald employee and the Circ’s construction foreman. “The people we have here now are keeping busy. We’re not hiring any more people until we get something official.”

Darling said that 20 employees are working on part of the project in Williston. People regularly approach the construction site looking for work, he said.

Work would stop if Judge William K. Sessions III orders the state to perform a major environmental study in his decision.

McDonald, based in Lyndon Center, was supposed to begin construction of a segment of the highway running from Interstate 89 to Redmond Road in Williston.

The 20 people working on the highway are relocating a water and sewer line, using an excavator, loader and a dump truck.

If work had started as scheduled, J.A. McDonald would be pulling up topsoil and getting down to the original earth, Darling said.

Lawmakers learned this week that a new cost estimate tagged the project at $223 million, up from an earlier projection of $189 million.