The Champlain Parkway project was taken to the federal court on Friday where a group of Burlington residents are trying to stop the city from starting construction.

Earlier this week, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order on the project, preventing it from even starting. Construction on Pine Street could begin as early as next week if the judge decides to lift the restriction.

Both the Pine Street Coalition and the City of Burlington were in attendance at the federal court room in Burlington.

“We are hopeful that a decision will allow the project to move forward at some point,” said Mayor Moro Weinberger.

“Creating this highway will do irrevocable damage,” said Cindy Hill, the prosecutor for the Pine Street Coalition.

The Champlain Parkway project would create a two lane, 25 mile per hour road connecting the South End to the downtown. Opponents say temporarily stopping the project is important to prevent irreversible harm from taking place, particularly towards the environment.

“Cutting this tree in it and creating this highway across it will do irrevocable damage to the wildlife.”

If lifted, trees on Pine Street would begin being cut down starting next week, something the coalition does not want to see happen.

Meanwhile, Burlington officials believe the project will help the environment.

“It actually helps us address stormwater challenges and phosphorous run off challenges and will make Lake Champlain cleaner.”

Burlington city officials say the project will ease traffic in the downtown. Opponents of the project are also concerned that the project will negatively impact the Maple/King Street areas that house more diverse and lower income communities.

“This project will bisect that community and put traffic signals at the intersections which will speed up the traffic and increase the traffic by 37%.”

One claims that the environment statement that the city is using for the project is out of date.

With the city’s storm water permit set to expire in July, Weinberger is concerned that all the taxpayer money that went into the project will go out of the drain.

“There’s a real risk that if the city is not allowed to proceed at this point, decades of work leading up until now can be lost.” 

The Burlington Public Works Director believes this roadblock is just a bump in the road. 

“The same group of litigants have tried 6 tries to bring various appeals on this project,” said Chapin Spencer, Public Works Director of Burlington. “We have been successful with all 6 appeals to date and we believe we’ll be successful in the future.” 

The judge says that a decision on the restriction will be made Friday night and hopes to resolve the full case by the end of the year.