City of Burlington Endorses Innovative Street Design Guide


City Endorses Innovative Street Design Guide
Expands City’s Toolbox for Future Streetscape Investments

Burlington, VT – March 24, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — At yesterday’s meeting, the City Council endorsed the use of an innovative streetscape design guide that will serve as a foundation for future roadway improvements. The Urban Street Design Guide, developed in 2013 by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) – an organization of transportation leaders in forward thinking cities – provides a flexible toolbox for cities to make streets safer, more livable, and more economically vibrant.

“Adopting the NACTO Guide adds to the City’s ability to make investments in our streets that recognize their value as important public spaces for Burlingtonians, as well as critical arteries for traffic,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The Guide will help ensure that the $10 million of voter-approved TIF investments in infrastructure make the downtown safer and more vibrant for walkers, bikers, and drivers alike.”

For too long, road designers in this country had very little ability to consider factors other than the flow of automobiles when making decisions about the details of our street investments. The NACTO Guide, available at, significantly expands the opportunities to consider additional factors. The Guide was endorsed by the Federal Highway Administration in 2014 and, beyond its clear vision for complete streets, also integrates stormwater management and engaging public spaces to create environmentally- and socially-focused streetscapes. This Guide will help the City propel Burlington’s 2011 Street Design Guidelines and best practices forward to meet our City’s vision for streets that are attractive public spaces and function as an interconnected transportation system with a range of choices that are safe, affordable, efficient, and convenient, as defined in our Municipal Development Plan. The NACTO Guide will help Burlington better design streets that are friendly for people, the environment, and the local economy.

“Having the more holistic and flexible NACTO guidelines in place prior to beginning our City-wide pedestrian and bike master planning process will be incredibly helpful, as it will create possibilities otherwise limited by more traditional guides,” said City Councilor Max Tracy, Chair of the Transportation, Energy & Utilities Committee.

“As the biggest city in a predominately rural state, Burlington needs additional tools in our toolbox to address urban design challenges within our narrow rights-of-way,” commented Public Works Director Chapin Spencer. “This guide provides many of the additional design tools needed.”

This summer, with the help of an $11,890 grant from the State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources’ Ecosystem Restoration Program, the City will install a stormwater friendly sidewalk containing elements recommended in the Urban Street Design Guide – This stormwater friendly design will include a linear installation of pervious pavers along a reconstructed sidewalk on South Winooski Avenue between Main and King streets, which will reduce stormwater runoff volume and nutrient pollution to Lake Champlain. More information on this project is available at

“It is smart policy to incorporate street designs from the best and the brightest into our toolkit for Burlington,” said Emily Boedecker, Executive Director of Local Motion. “We can learn from and build on how national leaders have safely integrated all modes of travel, and how other communities have successfully worked with the challenge of narrow streets and hilly topography. Adopting and implementing the NACTO guidelines will help us make the most of each and every investment in upgrading and redesign our streets.”

“Great Streets are an essential part of a great downtown,” said Kelly Devine, Executive Director of the Burlington Business Association. “Great downtowns are great for business. They are the places people want to spend time, where they come to connect with community. NACTO cities around the country have realized that streets are an economic asset, as much as a functional element. Well-designed streets generate higher revenues for businesses and higher values for homeowners.”

“We are pleased by the proactive approach of the City to adopt the NACTO Urban Streets Design Guide, which will provide design elements to affect behavior and lower speeds that will enhance pedestrian safety,” said Kelly Stoddard Poor, Associate State Director of AARP. “Our roadways have been designed to move traffic at high speeds, undermining the historic functions of streets to help people interact and get around, regardless of their mode of transit. The NACTO guidelines provide a smarter framework for transportation design that allows traffic to move while keeping communities safe and connected.”

The City of Burlington has been an Affiliate (small city) NACTO member since 2012 and has engaged in peer-to-peer exchanges regarding urban street design. In fact, City staff shared their expertise in the development of this NACTO guide. For example, the Burlington Scoping Study for the intersection of Pearl Street/Prospect Street/ Colchester Avenue is featured in the Urban Street Design Guide as case study for complex intersection analysis and quick action.

The Guide is supported by key Burlington stakeholders:

The City Council’s Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee unanimously supported the Urban Street Design Guide at its October 8, 2014 meeting.
The Burlington Walk/Bike Council’s Steering Committee unanimously supported the Urban Street Design Guide in a letter to the Department of Public Works and Public Works Commission in October 2014.
The Public Works Commission unanimously supported the Urban Street Design Guide at its October 14, 2014 meeting.
City Engineer Norm Baldwin, PE, has reviewed the Urban Street Design Guide and supports its use.
The City Council’s endorsement authorizes planners, engineers, and designers working for and in the City of Burlington to utilize the Guide. The City also relies on other guides including the City’s Street Design Guides developed as part of the 2011 Burlington Transportation Plan.

National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit association that represents cities on transportation issues of local, regional, and national significance. As a coalition of city transportation departments, NACTO is committed to raising the state of the practice for street design and transportation by building a common vision, sharing data, peer-to-peer exchange in workshops and conferences, and regular communication among member cities.

Contact Chapin Spencer, cspencer (at) burlingtonvt (dot) gov

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