Officials try to reach an agreement on road project in Vermont

News AASHTO Journal June 16, 2003
Printer-friendly version





Months of meetings between the Vermont Transportation Agency, the Federal Highway Administration and the U

Months of meetings between the Vermont Transportation Agency, the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yielded an understanding among the parties involved in moving forward with a controversial road project in the state.


The Chittenden County Circumferential Highway was one of 13 projects given priority treatment by the Bush Administration when the president signed executive order No. 13274 on environmental stewardship and transportation project reviews. As a result, the project received top-level agency review and a call by regional EPA administrators for further public scrutiny of the project already partially underway.


The project is a 16-mile, four-lane beltway around Vermont's largest city, Burlington. A 4.5-mile segment opened in 1993. However, the EPA regional office had raised issues on secondary impacts, growth in the area, impacts of runoff and other issues. After the state and the FHWA provided substantial data, the EPA asked for more.


A top-level meeting, which included state and regional officials as well as headquarters officials from both the EPA and FHWA determined that every issue raised by the EPA had been answered.


"The important thing is that we quit sending letters back and forth and were able to sit down at a table and discuss the real issues," said FHWA Administrator Mary Peters. "We were able to solve those issues on a project basis."


Region I EPA officials were not as enthusiastic about the outcome of the meeting. Smart Growth Coordinator Rosemary Monahan was quoted in the May 27 Daily Report for Executives as saying, "We have no more major concerns, but now it's important that the public see the plan and among other things ask if the time savings are worth the investment. That's a public policy question for people in Vermont. The public might have ideas we didn't have--their input is extremely important."


Overlay Init