Circ plan hits EPA roadblock

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(Host) The federal Environmental Protection Agency has put up a potential roadblock to a new highway planned for Chittenden County.

The EPA says construction of the Circumferential Highway, as originally planned, could destroy up to 47 acres of wetlands.

The EPA looked at the various alternatives to the Circ and concluded that all could work to relieve traffic congestion.

But the agency said it could not approve the alternative that involves a new four-lane highway because of the damage to wetlands.

Brian Dunkiel is a lawyer who represents the Smart Growth Collaborative, an organization fighting the project.

(Dunkiel) “Having EPA send a letter like this one on the draft EIS is significant, and I think will compel VTrans to seriously consider how it plans on proceeding with this project."

(Host) The Transportation Agency doesn’t see it that way. Spokesman John Zicconi says the EPA comments do not mean the new highway alternative is dead.

(Zicconi) "The Environmental Protection Agency is only charged with looking at wetlands. They are just like Fish and Wildlife, they are just like Historic Preservation. They all think their issue trump all the others. That is not the case. We don’t know whose issues will trump whose else’s issues.”

(Host) The EPA did indicate that the alternative that involves improvements to Route 2A could be approved. The agency said that alternative works to solve the traffic problems, and would only damage two acres of wetlands.

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