Governor Shumlin, Speaker Smith, Mayor Weinberger, Bike Path Stakeholders Break Ground on Enhanced, Expanded Bike Path Construction


October 2, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick

Governor Shumlin, Speaker Smith, Mayor Weinberger, other State and City Officials, Bike Path Stakeholders Break Ground on Enhanced, Expanded Bike Path Construction
TIF Funds Pave Way for Rebuilding Recreation Crown Jewel, Improving User Safety, and Continuing Economic Impact

Burlington, VT – Governor Peter Shumlin, Speaker of the House Shap Smith, Mayor Miro Weinberger, Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Director Jesse Bridges, other State and City officials, and bike path stakeholders today broke ground in Waterfront Park on the first phase of a multi-year effort to completely rebuild, expand, and enhance the entire eight-mile Burlington Bike Path.  State tax increment financing (TIF) funds have paved the way for the first phase of the rebuilding of the City’s recreation crown jewel, improving user safety, and continuing the annual economic impact benefit for our City. 

“The Burlington Bike Path is a jewel in this great City and a treasure for our whole state,” said Governor Shumlin.  “The State of Vermont was glad to make TIF funding – a true economic generator – available for the Burlington Bike Path expansion and enhancements to make sure it continues to be a top destination for recreation and a community resource for years to come.”

Speaker Smith praised Mayor Weinberger and municipal leaders for making smart investments in Burlington’s future, stating:  “The revitalization of the Burlington Bike Path is an excellent example of what municipalities can accomplish when working in partnership with the state.  I look forward to engaging with our partners to find more opportunities to improve our downtown destinations.”

“Creation of the bike path nearly 30 years ago was an act of leadership, foresight, struggle, and innovation, and a big step towards making Burlington a great City,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.  “It’s now our responsibility to ensure proper, long-term stewardship of this remarkable public resource by improving it to meet the 21st century infrastructure expectations of the people of Burlington and the thousands of visitors who use the path every year.”  

The newly-widened path – 11 feet of asphalt with two-foot gravel shoulders on each side (2-11-2 cross section) – will yield higher capacity and greater differentiation of user types and will be built to much higher engineering standards than the original bike path.  Jesse Bridges, Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Director, stated:  “I am excited by these ambitious plans.  User surveys we have conducted have told us that lake views, the bike path, and beaches are the most important assets we manage.  To meet growing demand for these healthy pursuits, we must enhance the quality of our design and continue to increase opportunities.”

The newly rebuilt bike path will include the following improvements:

  • Widening of the bike path.  The cross-section of the existing path varies from eight to 10 feet, with and without non-formalized shoulders.  Through the rehabilitation, the project will widen the path to the 2-11-2 cross section, with full-depth reconstruction, wherever conditions permit.
  • Higher engineering standards.  Engineering standards including consistently designed sub-base, uniform top coat, proper slope to better accommodate stormwater flow, formal aggregate shoulders, centerline striping, and delineation paint will improve the longevity, security, and appearance of the bike path.
  • User safety enhancements.  Intersection improvements and new path alignments, particularly in the Waterfront Park Event Grounds and in the Urban Reserve, will lead to user safety enhancements.
  • Improved connections.  These connections between the bike path and our parks, the lake, and cultural resources will be improved.
  • Improved wayfinding.  New signage and visual demarcations along the bike path will enhance the user experience.
  • Pause places.  These are special places along the path that will create more and varied opportunities for enjoyment along the path.  Three styles of pause place currently are in development including rest stops, information stops, and pocket parks.  These styles will offer varying amenities, from information kiosks to seating, drinking fountains, and artwork.

John Bossange, former Bike Path Task Force Chair and current Parks Commissioner and Parks Foundation Board Member, provided a link back to the hard work undertaken by the Task Force in 2010 and a look ahead, stating:  “The Task Force concluded overwhelmingly that the Burlington Bike Path was at a crossroads.  With our shovels in the ground here today, we say emphatically that we will not turn away.  Rather, we will invest in the future and the long-term viability of our beloved bike path.”

The construction phasing plan includes the following steps:

  • Phase 1a construction will start now in Waterfront Park, and crews will work their way south to Perkins Pier, meeting substantial completion next spring.  The cost of this work is $644,975.
  • During 2015, Parks and Recreation expects to complete any remaining Phase 1a construction items and begin/complete Phase 1b construction from the south end of the Urban Reserve (adjacent to the Waterfront Access North site) to North Beach.  Phase 1b is anticipated to cost more than Phase 1a because there will be more full-depth reconstruction involved.
  • Total TIF allocation for path rehabilitation from Perkins Pier through the Urban Reserve is $2.84 million for design and construction.

Future Phases of Rehabilitation

  • The overall cost of the full bike path rehabilitation is estimated between $12-16 million.
  • Funding of future phases will require more action.  The Administration will be coming forward soon with a plan to fund the next phase of rehabilitation to begin in spring 2016.

City Councilor Karen Paul (Ward 6), past Chair of the Council’s Parks, Arts, and Culture Committee (PACC), also participated in the groundbreaking and stated:  “Today's announcement of the enhanced and expanded bike path construction is yet another historic milestone and step forward in realizing the City's goal for a vital waterfront as envisioned in our newly adopted and highly collaborative planBTV.  This great progress would not be possible without TIF funding and the enthusiastic support of Burlington's voters, to whom we are grateful.  This is an exciting day for our City.”

City Councilor Kurt Wright (Ward 4), current PACC Chair, was unable to attend today’s event, but shared the following thoughts about this project:  “From my perspectives as a New North End resident, Bike Path Task Force member, PACC Chair, and a state representative who believes in the positive impact of an effective state TIF policy, I am thrilled that this project to rebuild the entire bike path is moving forward.  Our rebuilt bike path – one of Burlington’s true treasures – will continue to serve as an amazing community amenity and as an economic engine for Burlington.”

The history of the bike path includes the following significant events:

  • The original bike path, which varied between approximately eight to 10 feet wide, was constructed in 1985 and 1986.
  • In 2004, the Burlington and Colchester Trail Bridge over the Winooski River was built and opened.
  • In 2010, the Bike Path Task Force convened and recommended a $12-16 million expansion and enhancement plan to bring the bike path up to modern standards.
  • In April 2011, Lake Champlain flooding badly damaged five sections of the bike path.
  • In November 2012, 75 percent of Burlington voters approved up to $2.84 million of TIF investment in the bike path expansion and enhancement from Perkins Pier to the northern boundary of the Urban Reserve.
  • Also in November 2012, 73 percent of Burlington voters approved an annual allocation of a half cent, or approximately $173,000, for maintenance and improvement of the bike path.
  • During fall 2012 and winter 2013, major bike path and slope stabilization repairs, largely FEMA-funded, were completed.
  • Between fall 2012 and spring 2014, the conceptual design for the entire bike path was completed; design development and permitting per construction phase remains ongoing.


*Please see the following attached renderings of the Burlington Bike Path Rehabilitation Project:

  • Bird’s Eye View
  • Cross Section at Waterfront Park Event Grounds
  • Concept Plan


# # #

Press Release Date: 
City Department: 
Mayor's Office