Public input sought on Circumferential Highway plan

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(Host) The state wants public input on how to improve the transportation network in the Essex-Williston area. The Transportation Agency has scheduled three public meetings for later this month.
Officials say all options are on the table – from the proposed Circumferential Highway to building nothing at all.

VPR’s John Dillon has more:

(Dillon) A federal judge halted work on the Circumferential Highway last spring, just days before the state planned to break ground on the next leg of the road. The judge said the state needed to do more to look at alternatives to the project. That work has now started, and the Transportation Agency wants the public’s input.

The Agency will hold three meetings later this month, and has setup a Web site to gather comment. Deputy Transportation Secretary David Dill says the state is taking a fresh look at the project.

(Dill) “It could be something we designed before. It could be no action. It could be strategies to better manage demand. It could have something to do with public transportation services. It could be a different design. There are a number of ideas floating around out there.”

(Dillon) Opponents of the Circ Highway have suggested an alternative plan that involves the use of roundabouts to ease traffic congestion from Williston to Essex. They say their plan is much cheaper and will not promote sprawl. Brian Dunkiel represents the Smart Growth Collaborative, a coalition of business and environmental groups.

(Dunkiel) “From the public’s perspective, this is a real opportunity that’s never existed before for the public to get involved in their transportation future. They have the choice now to either opt for a major new highway that bisects Chittenden County, or a more neighborly approach that supports designated downtowns and actually relieves traffic.”

(Dillon) The three forums are scheduled for March 15 in Jericho, March 16 in Williston and March 17 in Burlington.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

Related link:
Information on Circ Highway forums

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