Federal Funding Approved for Bridge to Carry Cyclists, Pedestrians Across I-89 | Off Message

Federal Funding Approved for Bridge to Carry Cyclists, Pedestrians Across I-89

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A pedestrian heading from Burlington to South Burlington Friday afternoon - MATTHEW ROY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Matthew Roy ©️ Seven Days
  • A pedestrian heading from Burlington to South Burlington Friday afternoon
Vermont will receive nearly $9.8 million to construct a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over Interstate 89, state and federal officials announced Friday.

The project will allow pedestrians to bypass the busy Route 2 and I-89 interchange, where they must use crosswalks to navigate heavy traffic on highway ramps. It'll enable easier and safer walking and biking from the University of Vermont campus and medical center to South Burlington's busy business district along the Dorset Street and Williston Road corridors.

South Burlington officials once envisioned using gondolas as a potential solution for safety issues, but opted for the bridge plan instead.
Conceptual sketch of the bridge - COURTESY OF FREEMAN FRENCH FREEMAN
  • Courtesy of Freeman French Freeman
  • Conceptual sketch of the bridge
During the pandemic, architectural firm Freeman French Freeman sketched out how the project could take shape, routing the pedestrians to a crossing south of the current vehicle bridge. That was part of the firm's "Imagine This: Designing a Better Vermont" series of conceptual designs.



The grant is being made through the U.S. Department of Transportation's  Rebuilding American Infrastructure With Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program. Of 765 applications, only 100 projects were selected for funding, according to a statement from  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).

"Part of the federal strategy to limit the worst impacts of climate change must be to invest in non-vehicular transportation infrastructure," Leahy said in the statement. "Projects like this not only improve our transportation network but strengthen Vermont’s downtowns with environmentally sustainable projects.”

The delegation's letter of support for the grant proposal, submitted in July, noted that 28 percent of all jobs in Vermont are located within a five-mile radius of this I-89 interchange, and that the project would "relieve pressure on more environmentally sensitive and rural areas."