Statehouse Headliners: Legislature budgets millions for alternative transportation projects

By Guy Page

In January, the Democratic/Progressive supermajority in the Vermont Legislature promised to spend significantly more on alternative transportation as a means of reducing carbon emissions. Not surprisingly, the 2020 Transportation budget features large alternative transportation spending increases and ambitious new projects.

H.529, the state transportation budget bill approved May 23, would spend $2.65 million next year to fund four park-and-ride construction projects — creating 277 new spaces across the state — and the design of five additional facilities — totaling 277 more spaces — scheduled for construction in fiscal year 2021.

Once completed, these 554 new park and ride spaces will increase the number of state-owned parking spaces by 34 percent. Park-and-rides allow commuters to drive short distances from their homes, park, and then ride to work via carpool or public transportation. “These facilities promote multimodal transportation, increase the energy efficiency of the road network, and reduce the number of vehicles present on State highways,” the 2015 Statewide Park and Ride Facilities Plan says. Specific additions and improvements include:

  • Williston – construction of 142 spaces;
  • Saint Johnsbury – construction of 44 spaces;
  • Royalton – construction of 91 spaces;
  • Cambridge – improvements to existing spaces;
  • Thetford – design for 40 spaces;
  • Berlin (Exit 6) – design for 62 spaces at Exit 6, and 75 spaces at Exit 7;
  • Manchester – design for 50 spaces; and,
  • Williamstown – design for 50 spaces.

H.529 also funds $18.8 million in 2020 spending for a comprehensive expansion of the Bike and Pedestrian Facilities Program and “transportation alternatives.” It includes 77 bike and pedestrian construction, design, or right-of-way projects. The construction projects create, improve or rehab walkways, sidewalks, shared use paths, bike paths, and cycling lanes. Some projects also involve environmental mitigation.

Projects are funded in Albany, Arlington, Bennington, Brandon, Burlington, Castleton, Chester, Colchester, Dover, East Montpelier, Enosburg Falls, Essex, Essex Junction, Fair Haven, Fairfield, Franklin, Hardwick, Hartford, Hinesburg, Hyde Park, Jericho, Lake Champlain causeway, Manchester, Middlebury, Milton, Montpelier-Berlin, Moretown, Newfane, Norwich, Pittsford, Plainfield, Pownal, Pomfret, Putney, Richford, Royalton, Rutland City, Shelburne, St. Albans, South Burlington, Springfield, Stowe, Sheldon, Swanton, Thetford, Underhill, Waitsfield, Waterbury, West Rutland, Williston, Wilmington and Winooski.

H.529 also authorizes a 17.2 percent increase in public transportation spending, to $36.8 million. Allocations include $1.88 million for two large all-electric transit buses for the Burlington area, and $480,000 for two all-electric small shuttle buses for the Montpelier area.

Rail program spending will increase 11 percent over 2019, including $8 million for Amtrak and $5.2 million for Rutland-Burlington passenger service lineinfrastructure.

H.529 also allocates $1.2 million to complete the $7.5 million multi-modal transit center, bike path, and pedestrian facility in Montpelier.

Also, the bill would help fund transformation of the state vehicle fleet to 50% hybrid or plug-in electric. At present 54 of the 734 vehicles owned and operated by the State of Vermont fit that description.

Also, $2 million is allocated for subsidizing purchases of plug-in electric vehicles and for repairs of fuel-efficient cars.

The bill also orders state studies on:

  1. “feebates” (rebating DMV fees) based on miles-per-gallon
  2. Weight-based vehicle registration fees – the heavier the vehicle, the higher the fee
  3. Strategies to increase public transit ridership, especially in rural areas
  4. A regulatory framework for ‘transportation electrification’ – including presumably a PEV equivalent for the gasoline tax.

Finally, H.529 authorizes Dept. of Transportation Staff to work with the Agency of Natural Resources to negotiate a Transportation and Climate Initiative with other states. As reported in December by Headliners, the TCI is essentially a negative-incentive, multi-state carbon tax, by which rural, wintry gasoline-intensive states – like Vermont – would pay other, “cleaner” states.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR
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8 thoughts on “Statehouse Headliners: Legislature budgets millions for alternative transportation projects

  1. If there is a way to pour money into a bottomless pit and stick it to their neighbors, you can be sure the Dem/Lib/Progs in Montpelier will find a way. I’ve got a life size picture of Vermonters taking to their ancient two wheeler to ride in the snow and rain to get to work in respectable attire. Also, how many folks will welcome strangers to ride with them so all those extra spaces can be put to use???????? Come on!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s get real!!!!!!

  2. I’d like to know who’s going to pay for all the road and bridge repairs that are desperately needed in this State. Most of this money comes from the gas tax. The more they move to electric, the less money there will be to pay for all those projects.
    Are they going to charge a road tax fee and what about all the bicycles? They are also pushing for better roads for them. Are they going to charge them a tax. they should be registered, inspected and insured just the same as motor vehicles are.
    This legislature is rushing to go green but it’s all going to bite them in the a– because they are pricing this State out of business.

  3. May 23rd and these clowns have authorized millions of our money for marginal transportation projects. This is exhibit numero uno as to why these idiots should go home after 4 weeks. Toward the end of May with nothing better to do, they came up with this beauty. I’m disgusted!!!!!

  4. Regressive DemocRATs and another spending bundle of taxpayer money on mostly
    useless projects, when the State is already in Debt with unfunded liabilities !!

    H.529 also authorizes a 17.2 percent increase in public transportation spending, to $36.8 million. Allocations include ” $1.88 million ” for two large all-electric transit buses for the Burlington area,
    the next time you’re in ” The Queen City check out all busses around town and then look at how
    many people are on them………………what a waste and now they get another $1.88M to waste

    I guess when you have a state house full of Regressives from Burlington money is no object,
    maybe they could patch a few potholes…Oh, they did it was for the marathon !!

    How about lowering the property taxes with this money ????

  5. All of these are nothing more than pork projects for the liberal Progressive movements favorite locations and it will amount to absolutely nothing for improvement of anything

    • As reported in December by Headliners, the TCI is essentially a negative-incentive, multi-state carbon tax, by which rural, wintry gasoline-intensive states – like Vermont – would pay other, “cleaner” states. We have to send our taxpayer dollars to other states because our winter gas use is higher? Am I reading this right? Who really thinks this is a good idea?

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