Sunday, July 20, 2014

North Avenue Plan Funding--"going for the gold corridor"


When the question of funding for Burlington’s (VT) North Avenue came up last year during the early months of the study of the four-mile corridor, local and regional planners sort of rolled their eyes and expressed with knowing glances the dearth of federal funding.  The Advisory Committee pursued a quality approach focusing on a world class, livable street featuring cycle track (protected bike lanes) and the superior all-modes single-lane roundabout at key intersections.  Community participants insisted on a “going for the gold corridor.”

North Avenue now nears the goal line as the first Chittenden County urban corridor to get in line for livable street funding behind Brattleboro and Manchester Center.  Putney Road in Brattleboro, the Town’s busiest commercial corridor, thanks to business leadership first received town and then Vermont Agency of Transportation support for a full corridor with walk and bike mode facilities and all-roundabouts (four, including the first built in 1999, Keene Turn).

In 2012 Manchester Center completed half its long time plan with the State’s first “roundabout corridor,” three roundabouts along its commercial stretch along Main Street—the first walkable State’s first truly walkable all-mode street.  The second half of the Manchester Center plan, converting its only remaining signals to roundabouts along Depot Street with a likely plan revision to include cycle track.  Manchester Center and Brattleboro now compete to see who gets to the finish line with the State’s first both walkable and bikable urban street.  

Meanwhile in Burlington retains a bright possibility of its own for North Avenue as it is the only urban street in Chittenden County with a neighborhood driven draft plan—soon to be accepted by the City Council—containing walkable and bikable infrastructure.  

The opportunity for Burlington lies in the fact that the Chittenden County as a metropolitan area receives a separate stream of federal funding and does not compete directly against Brattleboro and Manchester.  Having the first walkable/bikable street plan in the County puts the City in the driver seat for funding.  Being the first in the State for a walkable/bikable corridor still remains in the cards a real possibility.

Burlington long led the region and the State with its unique contribution to transportation and recreation path development—the Marketplace car free four block plaza completed in 1981 and five years later in 1986 the completing of the amazing shoreline 7.5 mile Burlington Bikepath. 

Stay tuned as it may well be Burlington and its North Avenue “going for the gold corridor” on the quest for completing a State leading trifecta for transportation and recreation innovation.


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