On Town Meeting Day, Burlington voters overwhelmingly rejected an advisory question calling on the City to retain four lanes on North Avenue between the Route 127 interchange and Shore Road, paving the way for the pilot project to move forward. The pilot will test a new road design for North Ave to improve safety for people driving, walking and riding, with four vehicle lanes with no bikes lanes changing to two vehicle lanes plus a center turn lane and bike lanes in both directions.
Leaders of the neighborhood group opposed to the project took the question to the City as a whole with a ballot question on March 1. Many city parks and beaches are accessed from North Ave, and Burlington High School is located on the southern portion of the Avenue. The 58% to 42% vote sent a clear message that Burlington voters support moving ahead with the North Avenue pilot project.
Thousands of similar projects in many other cities and states around the country have demonstrated that 4 to 3 lane conversions are highly effective. Advocates and municipal leaders considering similar projects in Vermont are paying close attention to the successful conversion of streets like Colchester Ave and Williston Road in Chittenden County, and to how the North Ave pilot is implemented and evaluated.
Voters from the New North End and across the City shared with us some of the reasons why they voted “NO” on #2...
- Because they want safer crosswalks for getting to school, to the supermarket, and to other important destinations
- Because they ride on North Avenue (or would like to) and believe that continuous bike lanes on North Avenue will be safer for everyone
- Because their kids go to Hunt Middle School or Burlington High School, and they want them to have the opportunity to bike safely to school
- Because they want to see if the safety improvements typically seen with 4 to 3 lane redesigns—a 15% to 40% percent reduction in crashes—can occur on North Ave
Others were not yet convinced of the benefits, but wanted a chance to see for themselves how the pilot project worked before making a decision.
Starting in just a few months, crews will begin implementing two key pilot project-related changes on North Avenue: restriping and signal changes. Restriping will start with the less complex segments, leaving the 4 to 3 conversion until the summer to coincide with school break. Changes to intersections and to signals will happen in coordination with restriping. All the changes should be in place by mid- to late summer. For the complete schedule, visit the North Ave Taskforce’s website at www.avenueforeveryone.com.