The southern end of the Burlington Bike Path is getting a makeover.
Burlington officials broke ground Tuesday on work to rehabilitate 2.4 miles of what's known as the Greenway. Construction beginning this summer through the end of the year will intermittently close chunks of path from where it starts in the South End near the intersection of Pine Street and Queen City Park Road up to Perkins Pier.
In previous years, the city upgraded about five miles of path north of Perkins Pier, through Waterfront Park and up to the Winooski River Bridge. Once complete, all 7.9 miles of the bike path will be brought to modern standards, Mayor Miro Weinberger said at Tuesday's event.
“All the great stuff you have seen happening north of ECHO is now changing directions,” Weinberger said, referring to the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain on the waterfront.
“The message is to the South End: Here we come,” the mayor said. “We're going to do the same great things in the south with the bike path as we've done in the north."
Construction will close certain segments of the path at a time, Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Director Cindi Wight said. From now until early July, Queen City Parkway to Home Avenue will be shut down, followed by Proctor Place at Harrison Avenue during the second half of July. The section of path snugged between Lake Champlain and the railroad tracks — by the Barge Canal — will be closed from mid-August through year’s end. The walkways around Perkins Pier will be redone in the late fall and early winter before work ceases for the season. Suggested detours are available along all points, officials said.
Among the upgrades: Creating a "welcoming entrance" at the path's southern end; widening the path, particularly along the Barge Canal, to 15 feet to create a formal shoulder for runners and walkers; and a “pause place” with landscaping and benches at Roundhouse Park, a green space near the city's water treatment facility.
There are also plans to install an exercise station at Oakledge Park next summer.
City Councilor Joan Shannon (D-South District), a cyclist who uses the bike path for recreation and commuting, said the upgrades are overdue and, once complete, will benefit residents and businesses in the area.
“After 30 years, the bike path has become a bumpy ride and victim of its own success with heavy use by both tourists and locals,” she said. “I am so glad that this investment is now reaching the South End.”
Bike path rehab began in 2010 when the city convened a Bike Path Task Force, which recommended enhancements totaling $16 million. Since then, the nonprofit Parks Foundation of Burlington has raised over $1 million for the effort, and residents have supported the path by voting for ballot items following flood damage in 2011 and 2012, the mayor's office said in a press release.
This latest phase will shore up the path at Perkins Pier, elevating it a foot higher to prevent future flood damage, project manager Jon Adams-Kollitz said. The design raises grades and stabilizes the shoreline along the entire project area.
“We're thinking about that climate resilience as we build these plans going into the future so that ... when our lake is rising, that we can handle that,” Wight said.
John Bossange, the founding president of the Parks Foundation, called the redevelopment "a legacy project for generations to come, and that's why it’s so important to everybody here.
“That's why we see so much support from voters and residents," he said. "People within the philanthropic world have come forward to make this a reality.”
Cyclists can keep up with closures and bike path updates here.