After seven months of extensive renovations, the Burlington bike path is open again, according to the parks and recreation department. Changes include viewing spots along the lake, a dog park upgrade, and realigning the path to run along Lake Champlain.
The responses that Parks and Recreation have received about the new bike path have been “overwhelmingly positive”. Many people have been commenting on the beautiful views of the lake.
Diana Moran and Deb Nison are two walkers on the bike path that love the new upgrade.
“It’s much safer than it was before. Being pulled away from the parking lot and redirected toward the water I think is nice.” Moran said.
The pedestrians also enjoy walking by the skate park.
“It’s awesome. It’s the best thing that’s happened.” said two anonymous walkers. They had been walking along the bike path, laughing and enjoying the news views of the lake.
“The hill they took away was the best thing because I can’t do that hill.” said one of the walkers.
The new bike path now only has a very gradual hill that is easy to bike and walk up. The previous climb was located between the dog park and North Beach. The other walker said her mother was unable to walk up the old hill, which limited the distance of her walks.
Along with the path renovation, the parks department is planting some native trees. These include red maple, white cedar, red oak and river birch. There will be an increased variety of trees at the end of the renovation.
Despite the changes, some users still seek additional improvements. There are no benches along the bike path, even in the lake look overs. There are also not many bathrooms along the route.
“You gotta put benches in here. And every so often you gotta put a porty potty. If they’re walking here and they gotta go to the bathroom you can’t, you gotta go way down there.” said one of the walkers.
There are only few bathrooms along the long stretch of the bike path which can also limit walking time. Public restrooms are located at North Beach, Leddy Beach and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.
Jon Adams-Kollitz, one of the project planners, recognizes the need for additional restrooms.
“It’s an inconvenience. We heard it a lot from high school parents. We know that and are doing our best to get the proper methods,” Adams-Kollitz said.
Diana Wood and Adams-Kollitz, project planner, said that the renovation was funded by tax increment financing (TIF), a temporary tax increase for public infrastructure projects. In total, the whole redevelopment comes with a price tag of $2.4 million.
There will be another phase of renovation from the top of North Beach to the Colchester bridge. This will be called Phase 2 and is expected to take a season to complete, starting this summer. This will be the fourth segment in the past three years.
“The path is approximately 35 years old. It is not built to last a long time and recently has begun to show its age. The underground was not built to today’s standards,” Adams-Kollitz said.