Our Work

Stop the Circ Highway!

August 16, 2010

Remember the “Circ?” Well, that high-cost highway project in Chittenden County (which Bill McKibben calls a “global warming machine”) is back in the limelight at a critical stage of review. Here’s where you come in.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) needs to hear from as many Vermonters as possible by August 27 on the project. Our view? It’s a bad idea. It would destroy wetlands, waste money, and promote sprawl – all to save 4 minutes of travel time for the average commuter.

The long and short of it is this: The Circ moves Vermont in the wrong direction.

Transportation accounts for a third of all energy consumed in Vermont, and it equates to nearly half of the global warming pollution generated too. In part, that’s because Vermont has supported solutions that prioritize moving single occupancy vehicles — like the “Circ” — instead of focusing on solutions that move people.

Driving is an important mode of transport. But an overbuilt highway won’t ease congestion nor serve as a 21st century solution to meet our mobility challenges. We need a transportation network in Chittenden County — and across Vermont — that fosters diverse ways to get around.

The proposed Circumferential Highway is a poster child for a wasteful, polluting project that we can’t afford. The proposal is to create a new 16-mile highway linking I-89 in Williston with I-89 in Colchester (a 4 mile segment of the Circ has been constructed).

Last month VTrans released the Final Environmental Impact (EIS) statement for the project that proposes a four-lane divided highway, or boulevard, from I-89 in Williston to VT 289 — all at the cost of over $60 million. Unfortunately, a better option was ignored. That option includes improvements to VT 2A that would cost less, have fewer environmental impacts, and do a better job of alleviating traffic congestion at the five corners in Essex Junction.

It’s not too late for Vermonters to insist on common sense to improve traffic flow in Chittenden County.  Please weigh in soon! Public comments are due by August 27. Tell VTrans that the Circ project, as proposed, is a bad idea.

Additional information on the project, including sample comments from the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative, is available here.  Comments may be submitted online at http://www.circeis.org.