Sunday, November 30, 2008

Leahy eyes more money for Route 15

The Essex Reporter
By Jason Starr
November 2008

Sen. Patrick Leahy continues to position the Route 15 corridor at the receiving end of federal appropriations.

He funneled $1.6 million to Essex and Colchester last year to jump-start the proposed connector road from St. Michael's College to Fort Ethan Allen and support streetscape improvements from Susie Wilson Road to Five Corners.

Now he is working to secure an additional $3 million to be split between Essex Junction and the Town of Johnson about 30 miles to the east. His office has alerted the Village to expect one-third of the $3 million in 2009.

Leahy previously granted federal funds for the recently completed paving, lighting and sidewalk project at Five Corners.

"He is focusing on individual projects where the prospects for now are the best," Leahy transportation policy aide Greg Cota said. "Making sure that the corridor is welcoming, safe and attractive is important to Senator Leahy."

Essex Junction hired local contractor Donald Hamlin Engineering to put together a near-term and long-term wish list for Route 15 as it enters the Village from Winooski and Colchester. One of the first priorities will be remaking the entrance to the Champlain Valley Exposition.

Members of the Expo board have agreed to pitch in $80,000 to the Route 15 improvement pot. The Village has also pledged $80,000.

For now, the Village is working with $400,000 in federal money, the remainder of the $1.6 million earmark from 2007. The majority of the earmark – $1.2 million – went to Colchester and St. Michael's for the campus connector. Village and Leahy officials believe the budget will have to be increased to have a meaningful project for Route 15.

Village officials have been meeting nearly every week for about three months with engineer Rick Hamlin, members of the Expo board and Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization officials to discuss Route 15. They presented plans during a Village Board of Trustees meeting last week.

With the amount of money available still up in the air, a phased approach was recommended. The Expo gateway, with plans including a new pedestrian entrance and bus turnaround, improved sidewalks and lighting and new signs, would be in the first phase.

"The CVE's frontage was the original thing that started this," Village Manager David Crawford said.

Other phase one ideas include creating a dedicated five-foot-wide bike lane from Susie Wilson to Five Corners, repaving and restriping lanes and improving the connection with West Street. The Vermont Agency of Transportation has plans to repave from Susie Wilson to the Expo next summer.

The Village also hopes to expand the work recently completed at Five Corners over the rise to Post Office Square.

"The idea is to carry that theme at Five Corners with better lighting and better walkways into the hills section," engineer Rick Hamlin said.

The longer term vision includes roundabouts at West Street and Post Office Square, a pedestrian/recreation path along portions of the railroad that parallels Route 15 and a trolley service running from Five Corners to downtown Burlington. Each phase, of course, would come with new costs requiring new federal funding.

"We're expecting to have a presentation for Senator Leahy that shows them this concept and gets it into their thinking," Crawford said.

[Note: Bolded sections are Local Motion's emphasis]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shelburne Kids Learn To Walk Safely

BUS STOP -- Children at Waldorf School in Shelburne learned about bus safety during a special national Safe Routes To School program held on school grounds last week. Here, Bert Nubile, a parent of a Waldorf student, instructs youngsters about how to safely board and exit a CCTA passenger bus. The program presented at 50 schools around Vermont, was coordinated by Pam Mathews of Local Motion, a Burlington-based organization.

ED Note: Safe Routes To School is coordinated in Vermont by VT Agency of Transportation.

Mobile Bike Drive in Burlington

Blurt: The Seven Days Staff Blog
By Cathy Resmer
November 24, 2008

Img_2086 I pulled up to work this morning and saw this van sitting outside my office. Turns out it's a mobile, mini bike drive, organized by Bike Recycle Vermont.

These dedicated pedal pushers are standing outside on this frigid morning collecting used bikes that they'll fix up and sell to low-income Vermonters. Bike Recycle founder Ron Manganiello says people who meet BRV's income guidelines can receive a bike, helmet, lock and a set of lights for just $20. That's a great deal.

Manganiello says that, since its inception four years ago, BRV has refurbished and sold thousands of bikes to people who need them. BRV shop manager Mark Rowell adds that BRV isn't just providing bikes. "We train at-risk youth, we train volunteers to work on bikes," he says.

BRV accepts used bikes as donations at its HQ in the Good News Garage building, in the former bus barns Img_2088_2 on North Winooski Avenue in Burlington. But since they got this swanky van — donated by VBT, along with 100 bikes, and lots of bike parts — they decided to actively seek donations by setting up a mobile station. The hope is that people will donate bikes on their way to work.

This is only the second time they've tried this approach; they staged their first mobile bike drive three weeks ago in front of General Dynamics and collected 15 bikes.

Why stand outside right now asking for bikes? Are they doing a special push for the holidays? Rowell says no. "We spend the winter fixing bikes and getting them ready for spring," he says.

They don't seem to be doing as well this morning — probably because they forget to tell us they were doing it! So none of my co-workers brought in bikes. Too bad. Maybe next time. I hope all the people at VEIC and JDK and Kelliher Samets Volk pony up some wheels. If you read this before 10 a.m., feel free to drop by with a donation. We're at the end of South Champlain Street, across from the Bobbin Mill.

Here's a short video from Mountain Lake PBS with more information about BRV.

The folks in the photo, left to right: BRV volunteer Parker Brown, Rowell, Americorps/VISTA Emily Eschner and Manganiello. I think I'm going to go outside and offer them some coffee.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pedestrian Hit By Car In Williston

Burlington Free Press
News Brief
November 21, 2008

WILLISTON -- Williston police say they are looking for more information in connection with a pedestrian who was hit by a car at about 5 p.m. Wednesday. The accident was not a hit-and-run, police said.

Police did not identify the name or gender of the pedestrian who was injured in the accident on Williston Road, near the intersection of Maple Tree Place.

The extent of the pedestrian's injuries were not specified by police.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Williston Police Department at (802) 878-6611.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Response to Bike Math

WPTZ Editorial
Friday, November 14, 2008

The following is a Newschannel 5 editorial response.

Building safe places to walk and bike makes sense – especially now with high gas prices, climate change and an obesity epidemic.

A new federal transportation bill will be drafted soon, and groups like Local Motion are working to secure $50 million dollars in federal funds to connect our region’s sidewalks, bike lanes, and paths.

The investment would put Vermonters back to work building these facilities and get more Vermonters active, thereby reducing our health care costs. It would also revitalize our village centers and reduce emissions.

VTrans found 55% of area residents are using our tails every year, and the US Census found 18% of commuters are walking and biking to work in Chittenden County’s core. This is not about lycra-clad cyclists. This is about kids walking to school; it's about seniors strolling to the local store, and commuters biking to work. Active Vermonters are healthy Vermonters.

That’s how I see it.

This has been a Newschannel 5 editorial response.

Editorial Response by Chapin Spencer, Executive Director Local Motion, Burlington, VT

Original editorial: Local Motion Media File: Bike Math?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bike Math?

WPTZ Editorial
Friday, October 31, 2008

We all know hopping on a bicycle and pedaling around in the clear, crisp outdoors air is a good thing. But, to put it bluntly, it ain't worth fifty million dollars.

That's how much a local group wants the Federal government to fork over, though. The money's part of a program to improve and expand bike paths, and some folks think it would be swell to have that money for the spandex-and-pointy helmet-set in Chittenden County.

We say slow down.

Vermont's infrastructure has real issues that demand real attention and real dollars. Bridges are crumbling. Roads need repair. These critical needs are a bit higher on the priority list than building another bicycle path to nowhere.

If we want some earmarks from Senators Leahy and Sanders, we suggest asking them to help with our real needs. We think the pedal pushing crowd already has enough spaces for spandex. That’s our opinion. What’s yours?

Aired by President/General Manager, Paul A. Sands

Update: Local Motion Media File: Response to Bike Math