State Headliners: VTrans winners, losers

Vermont Agency of Transportation

The new North Hero drawbridge is scheduled to open in October, 2021. Meanwhile there is two-way traffic on the temporary drawbridge.

By Guy Page

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is replacing Bridge 8 on U.S. 2 between the towns of North Hero and Grand Isle. This drawbridge is a historic twin leaf bascule bridge, and the only vehicular movable bridge in the State of Vermont. Construction began in June 2018 and the estimated completion date is in 2022. The contractor will build a temporary drawbridge prior to replacing the existing drawbridge so that impacts to vehicular traffic are minimized.

Traffic Phasing Milestones:

  • July to August 2018: one-lane, two-way traffic on the existing drawbridge
  • August 2018 to May 2019: two lane, two-way traffic on the existing drawbridge
  • May 2019 to May 2021:  two lane, two-way traffic on the temporary drawbridge
  • May to September 2021: two lane, two-way traffic on the new drawbridge
  • September 2021: one-lane, two-way traffic on the new drawbridge
  • October 2021:  two lane, two-way traffic on the new drawbridge

For stunning construction photos and more information on construction updates at the drawbridge, click here.

Budgets, like bridges, have their ups and downs. After Headliners last month reported on heavy new spending for transportation-based carbon reduction, many readers wondered whether our Legislature robbed Paving Project Peter to pay Carbon Reduction Paul. With the help of a legislator who was wondering the same thing, Headliners found a VTrans report outlining transportation funding winners and losers this year.

According to the report, the $616 million FY 2020 Transportation Budget is up less than one percent in total spending but up 2.8% for the “state share” alone. State transportation officials tout the spending increase as consistent with Vermonters’ wage growth. The budget reflects increased spending on carbon reduction, road maintenance, and bridges, while some (but not all) funding decreases are described as prudent reductions based on completion of major tasks. Virtually all information presented below is printed verbatim from the VTrans report.

Six Biggest Winners (by percentage increase):

  1. $13 million for Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities. This is an $2.2 million increase (20 percent) over FY2019.
  2. $34.9 million for Rail. This is a $5.3 million increase (18 percent) over FY2019. This budget will continue to focus on the Western Corridor projects with the goal to extend the Amtrak Ethan Allen passenger train from Rutland to Burlington.
  3. $33.8 million for Public Transit. This is a $4.8 million increase (17 percent) over FY2019.
  4. $93.9 million for Maintenance. This is a $6 million increase (7 percent) over FY2019. The increase is largely driven by the need to restore $1.6 million that was cut from the FY2019 budget last session, a 15% increase in salt costs, fixed operating costs increases, and a reorganization that transferred the Office of Highway Safety from Program Development to Maintenance.
  5. $33.2 million for the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is a $1.8 million increase (6 percent) over FY2019.
  6. $98.8 million for Bridge Programs. This is an $3.3 million increase (3 percent) over FY2019.

Nine Biggest Losers (by percentage decrease):

  1. $20.9 million for Traffic and Safety. This is a $590,000 decrease (2.7%) from FY 2019.
  2. $100.7 million for Paving. This is an $3.5 million decrease (3 percent) from FY2019. Based on 2018 pavement data, 13% of the VTrans managed highway system is in very poor condition, which is below the performance target of 25%.
  3. $48.8 million for Roadway. This is a $3.2 million decrease (6 percent) from FY2019. This budget item will fund 15 culvert/drainage projects, 23 ledge removal/slope stabilization projects, 25 roadway/intersection reconstruction projects.
  4. $63.6 million for Town Highway Programs. This is a $5.7 million decrease (8 percent) from FY2019.
  5. $3.3 million for Transportation Alternatives. This is a $330,000 decrease (9 percent) from FY2019. This budget funds 35 projects, including environmental mitigation and bike/pedestrian, in 27 different communities.
  6. $680,000 for Rest Areas. This is an $65,000 decrease (9 percent) from FY2019.
  7. $2.7 million for Park-and-Ride Facilities. This is a $1.2 million decrease (30 percent) from FY2019.  The decrease is attributed to the completion of the Colchester facility. However, more than a dozen park-and-rides will receive funding for design, construction and/or upgrades.
  8. $9.2 million for Aviation. This is a $4.6 million decrease (33 percent) from FY2019. The decrease is the result of the recent completion of some large Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant awards.
  9. $908,000 for Transportation Building Facilities. This is a $670,000 decrease (42 percent) from FY2019.

For more details, see VTRANS report on FY 2020 program.

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 Vermont Agency of Transportation

5 thoughts on “State Headliners: VTrans winners, losers

  1. A Tesla Model 3, with four wheel drive and longer range, HIGHLY ESSENTIAL in Vermont, costs about $50,000, plus sales tax, etc., about TWO TIMES the price of a Subaru Outback with four wheel drive getting about 29.5 mpg; my mileage.

    The Subaru is FAR MORE USEFUL for Vermonters, the reason so many of them are sold in Vermont and all of New England.
    If rental fleets calculated EVs had a lower owning and operating cost versus gasoline vehicles, they would buy them by the tens of thousands.

    It turns out, according to numerous studies, ON A LIFETIME BASIS, the CO2 reduction versus efficient gasoline vehicles is minimal, if upstream CO2 and downstream CO2 were included, even with the NE grid slowly getting cleaner, less CO2MWh, due to increased wind and solar.

    Subsidizing EVs would be at a VERY HIGH cost per metric ton of CO2 reduced, especially for a SHORT LIFE asset.

    Increased energy efficiency of buildings would be far less costly per metric ton of CO2 reduced, because they are LONG LIFE assets.
    In Vermont 95% of buildings are energy hogs, thus highly UNSUITABLE FOR HEAT PUMPS.

    Read the URLs and you will be so much better informed.

  2. How much money is being wasted on the draw bridge in the Islands ?? , what was wrong
    with a normal bridge, I assume the additional cost for this boondoggle wasn’t up for discussion
    or what the additional cost of upkeep and operators to allow a hand full of boats thru six months
    out of the year…….

    If Dick Mazza wants it, Vermont gets stuck with the bill !!

  3. Re paving and bridges we would be in a different place had lawmakers left the transportation fund alone instead of raiding it for decades to pay for non transportation programs. Instead, Vermonters pay the motor fuel taxes thinking the money all goes to roads. silly them.

  4. “tale about the plight of transvestites in Vermont.”

    Well with all the waste of money pilfered from the driving public they could have built them a highway to Hell….

  5. How sad that initially I presumed this was a tale about the plight of transvestites in Vermont.

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