Fresh Transportation Options Outlined for Chittenden County
A series of significant new transportation projects that will make it easier to get around Chittenden County were recently unveiled at a press conference in Williston. A range of stakeholders, including VNRC, helped select the 34 projects that will help a key area of the state move beyond the “Circ” highway and towards a more efficient, affordable transportation future with more transit options.
In May of 2011, Gov. Shumlin announced that the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway, or “Circ,” would not be built as originally envisioned. He convened a group of transportation stakeholders known as the Circ Alternatives Task Force to come up with solutions.
The group recognized that Chittenden County’s businesses and residents have for years faced major transportation challenges because of growth and development in the region. Because much of this growth has occurred in outlying communities outside of traditional centers, and is expected to continue into the future, it was clear that a new approach was necessary.
“The truth is, we can take advantage of the very best transportation strategies we have today, strategies we hadn’t thought about decades ago when the Circ was originally conceived,” said Brian Shupe, VNRC’s executive director. “These strategies – that don’t promote sprawl, and at the same time do more to protect our water, air, wildlife habitat and our communities themselves – will also improve transportation options for all residents and will support the county’s economic future,” he said.
VNRC and other environmental groups had long opposed the “Circ,” arguing it would have been inefficient and over the long term could have made traffic problems even worse in Chittenden County.
The Conservation Law Foundation – which has advocated vigorously for alternatives to the Circ for over two decades – as well as Local Motion, Preservation Trust of Vermont, Chittenden Regional Planning Commission and towns in the region all played critical roles in the process.
Here are a few specific examples of initiatives that were outlined:
- The Crescent Connector: Development of a $3 million project that diverts traffic from Five Corners while opening up land for infill development in a Vermont village.
- Regional Transportation Demand Management: Expansion and promotion of the Go! Chittenden County program. This includes installing new transit shelters, hosting bike commuter workshops, growgin the Employee Transportation Coordinator network, implementing a transit pass program, analyze CarShare VT expansion among other things.
- Bike Path: Construction of the VT 15 Shared Use Path adjacent to VT15 from West Street in Essex Junction to Exit 15 in Winooski. This is a multi-town multi-modal project involving Essex Junction, Essex, Colchester, and Local Motion, as well as a representative from St. Michael’s College.
- Improved Transit: Improvements to CCTA bus service including a new commuter service from Jeffersonville to Burlington as well as mid-day service between Williston and Burlington.
- Intersection Improvements: More than two-dozen intersection improvements will be made throughout the area.
For more information on the projects visit the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission website.