Dorset Street Shared Use Path Project: How we got here
Ashley Parker, City Project Manager
In 2016, the City’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee held a series of four meetings and surveyed residents to identify bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure needs throughout the City. The survey, which targeted each of South Burlington’s four residential and commercial quadrants, identified 70 projects which the Committee then ranked. Ranking categories included: Recreation Path Gaps, Crosswalk Gaps, Walking Trail Gaps, and Sidewalk Gaps. After ranking these projects, the Committee was left with 20 top rated projects, many of which ended up on their Penny for Paths priority project list.
In August 2018, residents voted to designate one penny on the tax rate for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. This kicked off the Penny for Paths (P4P) initiative. The majority of the projects marked for P4P funding come from the previously mentioned Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee’s priority project list. The fund covers the cost of new infrastructure (usually gaps in existing infrastructure) and not tasks associated with maintenance.
At the top of the Committee’s priority project list is the Dorset Street shared use path project, which is a 0.7-mile gap in the shared use path network along Dorset Street, between Old Cross Road and Sadie Lane. The project has been on the City’s Capital Improvement Program for over a decade, is found on the City’s Impact Fee Ordinance, and is included in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. In 2017, the project was included in a scoping study to analyze and evaluate the feasibility of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure along this stretch of Dorset Street. Alternatives were evaluated with input from the public via workshops, presentations, and meetings. A preferred alternative for this project was identified and supported by the Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee and the Planning Commission.
In 2019, the City received a grant from VTrans to support the design and construction of the preferred alternative. The City will receive $661,000 of federal funding, and will match that with $165,400. The City is able to match more than the required amount due to the availability of both P4P funding and Recreation Impact Fees for this project. After accepting the grant award, the City released a Request for Qualifications for this project in January 2020. Statements of Qualifications (SOQs) for this project were due January 27, 2020. The Project Team reviewed five SOQs; and, in February 2020, the Project Team recommended that the City Council approve the authorization of the City Manager to negotiate and sign an agreement with Stantec. The Project Team then held a kick off meeting in April 2020, and has since been working to move the project design forward.
To-date, a survey of the project area has been completed, a wetland delineation done, permitting initiated, a Phase 1B archaeology study completed, one public meeting with the Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee to review plans, and 30% design completed. The Dorset Street Shared Use Path project is a long-time project that is the direct result of several rounds of public input and the perfect timing of funding sources that help make this project a reality.
There is a Public Forum regarding this project at the next Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee meeting on Wednesday, February 10th, at 5:30 PM. The Committee and Project Team will be gathering additional public input on the current design and concept of the path. All are invited to join in on the conversation.