Monday, December 19, 2005

A Vermont Transportation Issue

Circ-Williston EIS Commentary
Charles E. Root Jr.

There is a disease and plague in the State of Vermont, the disease is liberalism and the plague is out-of-state interference, unfortunately both these pox have infected the circumferential highway project.

The Circ. project has languished in this state for decades, the citizens of this state a generation ago saw the need to divert traffic away from urban areas yet here we are with precious little of that vision actually completed so many years later. Originally the delay centered around cost, but eventually the tree huggers (Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative ) and out-of-staters (Conservation Law Foundation) that want to treat Vermont like their own private environmental Disneyworld insinuated their unwanted and unsolicited opinion in to the project. Now the state has to jump through a three ring circus of legal hoops erected by liberal activist judges sympathetic to the obstructionist entities opposed to the project.

Imagine, if you would, the State of Vermont without Interstate I-89 or Intrastate 189. If these projects were being proposed today undoubtedly they would face the same amount of encumbrance faced by the circumferential highway project. How would the state be fairing right now economically, environmentally, and socially if those major highway project had been stopped? I think we can all agree not very well.

The opponents of the Circ would like you to believe that once the Circ is built areas in and around Chittenden county are going to turn in to downtown Manhattan with sprawl sending houses halfway up the side of Mount Mansfield. This alarmist, untrue position can be refuted with one word, zoning. The towns that are close to the Circ’s route have stringent zoning laws especially Williston, that for example, has several thousands of dollars in fees for building permits and maximum allowable growth of 64 new homes a year. Where’s the unregulated sprawl there, I don’t see it.

I think Circ oppositionist, besides being dishonest are disillusioned. Chittenden County is the urban center of the State. That urban center has its bedroom communities and places like the Church Street Market Place, IBM, IDX, Costco, Home Depot, and Walmart People need to have an efficient way to get from home to these locations and back. My God, take a look around Chittenden County! Does it look anything like Orleans County or Windsor County? No of course not, because they are different places, with different needs and different people. If the Circ was being proposed for one of those areas I might be able to see the desire to oppose it, but Chittenden County is not those places. Chittenden County will never go back to pristine wilderness and farmland and no amount of wishing, hoping, lying, or legal maneuvers will change that. Any other assessment is being offered by someone living in a fantasy land.

Circ oppugnants would like you to believe they have the areas best interest at heart. Nothing could be further from the truth! They offer up plans like placing rotaries along route 2A or building “the Circ Rd” a road that follows the same path as the Circ Highway, but stopping short of route 2. I almost choked when I read these plans. Let me briefly tell you why these are disasters in the making.

Rotaries – A feel good European traffic device that liberals will enjoy pointing out work great in France (boy wouldn’t liberals love it if Vermont was part of France, but that’s another argument). There are two rotaries in Chittenden County one on Shelburne Rd. and one on Maple Tree Drive, both are dismally ineffective at controlling traffic. Having to use the rotary on Maple Tree Drive every single day I can tell you from experience. People don’t yield, people dart out in front of oncoming cars, semi trucks can’t turn around them. Others treat them like an obstacle in a slalom course and actually increase speed as they approach them. If you were to put these along route 2A you’d essentially be turning it in to a drag strip and cars waiting to get on from side streets would be waiting a mile deep. Semi trucks turning on to Industrial drive would block traffic while they slowed and backup and shimmied to make the turn. Of course proponents of the idea tell you they could make them big so that traffic could navigate them easier. How? By seizing the private land which boarders the road? Private land that also includes a memorial to our Veterans. What a nice liberal idea of governmental power, land seizer. Then there’s the chill inducing thought of a rotary at Essex Five Corners, FIVE CORNERS FOR GOODNESS SAKE!! I can’t imagine it, it would be a traffic nightmare, throw a train blocking certain outlet roads, you might as well call it the Essex Five Corners Parking Lot.

Circ Rd. – This is the idea for a road that follows the path of the Circ, but doesn’t connect to I-89. It’s real easy to tell you what’s going to happen here. Cars will get off this “Circ Rd” and go through residential neighborhoods to weave their way to Williston and I-89. Great idea, good thinking there. Let’s increase traffic where our children play. The very suggestion of this idea makes me wonder about the honesty of Circ opponents. Wouldn’t this road create the same amount of pollution and noise?

Building the Circumferential Highway should be a no-brainer. The land is already bought and it goes through already developed areas, it’s not like we’re mowing down the Green Mountain National Forest or turning over 2000 acres of farmland to build this. Storm water runoff can be controlled by effective engineering, you need not just let it pour directly in to Lake Champlain.

I invite you to swing by Essex Five Corners during rush hour and sit there for literally 20 minutes, or drive north on I-89 and marvel at the line of traffic attempting to get off at exit 12, and you tell me that the Circ shouldn’t be built or that we should play Mickey Mouse games with “alternative” suggestions. We are only going to continue to grow in this county and things are only going to get more and more congested on our existing roadways. I would ask Circ adversaries at what point will the addition of new roads in this area be okay? When the population grows from 146,000 to 200,000? 250,000? What’s the magic number or do you think that the current roads will allow for effective traffic flow regardless of how large Chittenden County gets?

Chittenden County needs the Circ. Citizens want the Circ and the iconoclast minority that wish to defeat the project need to know how much they are opposed by a silent but very large majority.

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