Bike Path Relocation Question Headed for November Ballot

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While a massive Burlington Bike Path rehabilitation is underway, some say there’s one area being neglected.  In between King Street and College Street the Bike Path crosses over railroad tracks twice.  It’s why there’s one group who’s pushing to make the path safer in that area.

“This is the last piece that needs to be done, this one two-block stretch,” explained Rick Sharp.  As a Bike Path Advocate, it’s a stretch Sharp would like to see improved.  “Twenty-seven years ago when they put the Bike Path in, it was a lot cheaper just to paint a Bike Path down some existing pavement on the east side of the tracks than it was to do it right and continue it down the west side of the tracks,” he added.

In 1980, Sharp helped push for its construction.  Now, he wants to see it made safer, “By allowing the Bike Path to go down the west side of the tracks instead, you eliminate those two railroad crossings which are tremendous hazards,” he stated.  “This is definitely not the first time we’ve had this conversation.  It’s long been in our conceptual plans to have the path move to the west of the tracks,” added Jesse Bridges.

Burlington’s Parks Recreation and Waterfront Director agrees changes need to be made, but explains that won’t be easy.  “It is a very complicated project.  That area in particular with the railyard, and LCT’s current operations, it makes it a very congested area,” said Bridges.  He added that with the possibility of Amtrak bringing service to Burlington, there’s no word yet on how much space they would need, or if they would have to build another set of tracks along with waterfront.

LCT is Lake Champlain Transportation.  It owns the property, and according to Sharp, it hasn’t been willing to give up land for the Bike Path relocation.  That’s why Sharp got more than 1,600 signatures in support of moving it.  Through those signatures, a Bike Path Relocation question has been added to the November ballot.

Sharp thinks if the city won’t be granted the land, it should be able to take it through eminent domain.  He wants voters to be able to decide that, and the ballot vote will help show potential support of that route.  The question will read: “Should the Mayor of Burlington and the City Council be advised to relocate the Burlington Bike Path to the west side of the railroad tracks between College and King Streets, even if that means utilizing public trust doctrine or eminent domain to accomplish this task?”

Jesse bridges had this to say on the topic of eminent domain, “What I’ll say is, Rick {Sharp} has worked tirelessly for years since the inception and founding of the Bike Path to make sure that spine of the waterfront was there and protected, so we’re appreciative of his effort to continue to advocate.”

While Sharp hopes it doesn’t come down to eminent domain, he’s wiling to do what’s necessary to see the bike path relocated.  “The Bike Path has completely transformed the City of Burlington.  It’s made it a much more walkable, bikeable city.  Quality of life is tremendous,” said Sharp.

Local 22/Local 44 did reach out to Lake Champlain Transportation.  They did not return our calls.

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