Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Re-Opening of Barge Canal Section of the Burlington Bike Path

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2020
Contact: Olivia LaVecchia
                (802) 734-0617

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Re-Opening of Barge Canal Section of the Burlington Bike Path

Section features some of the most dramatic improvements of the entire Bike Path rehabilitation project; Seven miles of the eight mile path now fully rehabilitated

Burlington, VT – Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced the opening of the Bike Path from Oakledge Park to Roundhouse Park, reconnecting the South End to the downtown. This completed section features significant improvements to path width and safety, and with its reopening, the City has now completed seven of the eight miles of the multi-year Bike Path rehabilitation project.

“Even as the City is focused on our response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we also continue to advance projects that ensure that we will be a stronger community on the other side of this,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “This re-opened section of the Bike Path is a dramatic improvement that will make it easier, safer, and more enjoyable for Burlingtonians to travel along the Bike Path from downtown to the South End. The Burlington Bike Path is both critical infrastructure and beloved part of the heart of our city, with this section, we’re continuing our work to restore, upgrade, and steward it for all Burlingtonians to enjoy.”

This section of the Bike Path crosses the Barge Canal in the South End, and improving it posed one of the greatest technical challenges of the entire path. In order to address the chronic problems of exposure to waves and wind, frequent deterioration, and crowding, the rehabilitation widened the path from a mere eight feet to the standard 15 feet of other sections of the Path. The rehabilitation also included creating a “revetment” wall alongside the path, built with boulders specifically designed to absorb wave action and prevent icing and wear on the path.

The reopening of this section follows a delay after the “Halloween Storm” of October 31, 2019 poured 3.3 inches of rain in Burlington, increased the level of Lake Champlain by two feet, and brought work on constructing the revetment to an abrupt halt, which prolonged a detour of the Path onto Pine Street. Fortunately, low levels of precipitation this winter and spring allowed the project team to progress quickly once they were able to restart work.

“The 1,000-foot stretch of Path along the Barge Canal was previously a narrow and occasionally treacherous section bombarded by waves, ice, blowing sand, and snow,” said Cindi Wight, Director of Burlington Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront. “Now, this section is completely rebuilt with accessibility, safety, resilience, increased recreation opportunities, and reduced maintenance costs in mind. Thank you to all of our many partners in this project, including federal agencies, State partners, land owners, City departments, and the designers and work crews who worked through challenging weather and the pandemic to bring this project to completion.”

“I’m thrilled to see this section of the Greenway reopen, and very excited to make use of it in the 2021 Vermont City Marathon,” said Peter Delaney, Director of Run Vermont. “Most years, we chose to avoid these specific sections for safety reasons. Now, without hesitation, we can route our race through the most beautiful and striking sections of the Burlington Greenway.”

Throughout the Bike Path rehabilitation, the City has implemented improved standards that include safer alignment, extra width, accessible grade, smoother and more consistent paving, a shoulder for running and walking on both sides of the pavement, and pause places that create space for people to stop and enjoy. This latest phase is funded through the City’s Capital Budget, Penny for Parks, and philanthropic contributions from the Parks Foundation of Burlington.

Along with the Barge Canal, other improvements to this section have included, from north to south:

  • A wider path with increased visibility and maneuverability from the HULA property to Lakeside Avenue, thanks to close collaboration with HULA;
  • Connecting the Path to the sidewalk at Harrison Avenue and smoothing out grades at the intersection with the street;
  • Paving a small section from the Oakledge bridge to Proctor Avenue, which links the Lakeside neighborhood with Oakledge Park; and
  • Rebuilding the Path through the northern portion of Oakledge Park, widening this often-crowded part of the Path to the standard 15 feet and introducing inviting, expansive, and accessible seating areas with view across Lake Champlain.

The Bike Path is now open for use throughout its length, including the section from Perkins Pier into Oakledge Park.

Finishing the Rehabilitation of the Bike Path

The reopening of this section of the Bike Path caps a year of work that included both off-road and on-road improvements from Queen City Park Road to Home Avenue, Proctor Place to Harrison Avenue, and through the Barge Canal and Roundhouse Park to Perkins Pier. This latest phase followed years of work to steward and upgrade the northern sections of the path from Perkins Pier north to the Winooski River Bridge.

Now, the City is working on Phase 3b of the Bike Path rehabilitation, which focuses on the Path through Oakledge Park. This work is expected to start in June 2021, and has been coordinated to allow maximum use of Blanchard Beach through the summer. The work will include improving beach access, realigning the path through Oakledge Park to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, and improving circulation at Flynn Avenue. The project team is on track to complete the reconstruction of the entire eight miles of the Bike Path in the fall of 2021.

Background: Bike Path Rehabilitation Is Result of Years of Planning, Effort, and Generosity

The rehabilitation of the entire Burlington Bike Path is a multi-year project estimated to cost a total of $16.5 million. Phase 1a encompassed the segment from Perkins Pier to Penny Lane, and was completed in summer of 2015. Phase 1b picked up from Penny Lane, realigned the path through the Urban Reserve and added a new pause place, lookout, and three new UVM Medical Center Fitness Stations. Phase 2 covered just over 3 miles of full reconstruction from north of the North Beach overpass to the intersection of North Avenue Extension, and additional paving from North Avenue Extension to the Winooski River Bridge. Each phase has enhanced safety, ecological function, and connectivity, transforming the Bike Path into a linear system of parks.

 

The effort to rehabilitate the Burlington Bike Path began in 2010 with the convening of the Bike Path Task Force, which recommended a $12-16 million enhancement to bring the Bike Path up to modern standards. Following significant flood damage in April 2011, in November 2012, Burlington voters approved two significant ballot items put forward by Mayor Weinberger in his first months in office to fund the improvement and maintenance of the Bike Path, and also supported ongoing investment in infrastructure through Mayor Weinberger’s approximately $50 million Sustainable Infrastructure Plan in 2016, the most comprehensive infrastructure effort in modern Burlington history. Reinvestment in the Bike Path has also been made possible by the Parks Foundation of Burlington, which has raised over $1 million to supplement public investment in the Bike Path.

To follow the latest information about closures and construction progress, please see:

For more information about the work to rehabilitate the Bike Path, please see:

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Press Release Date: 
12/08/2020
City Department: 
Mayor's Office