(Host) The state of Vermont will begin a new environmental study to determine the effect of the Circumferential Highway on sprawl. The study was required last month when a judge halted work on the Chittenden County road project.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William Sessions said that a 1986 environmental study of the Circumferential Highway failed to adequately examine the project’s impact on suburban sprawl. The judge also said that a second environmental assessment completed in 2003 was also “totally inadequate.”
The state Transportation Agency has moved to comply with the court’s order. David Scott is the agency’s director of program development.
(Scott) “I think the judge was very clear. There were some areas that needed some additional studies, so we’re taking that for our bit of action.”
(Dillon) Scott says the state will hire a consultant to do the required studies. He says that a consultant could be hired by the end of the summer, and that the work will take at least a year.
The state will also have to pay the highway contractor for the men and machinery that were idle during two weeks in early May while the court decision was pending.
(Scott) “I think the numbers were about $150,000 a week. Those were ballpark estimates that the contractor provided us based upon, you know, 40 hours of a bulldozer’s time at X dollars per hour. What we’re looking for now is those costs detailed out more specifically.”
(Dillon) Scott says the final amount will be negotiated with J.A. McDonald, the contractor hired by the state to build the highway. Ron Desroches, the project manager for McDonald, says the company is still incurring costs for its work on the Circumferential Highway. He says the company also lost out on other contracts because it was committed to the Circ.
(Desroches) “There’s no doubt that we passed on bidding on other work, feeling that we had this project that was going to keep our forces busy. So certainly there was other work that went by that normally we would have participated in bidding that we didn’t because we had this job.”
(Dillon) Meanwhile, the state and federal government are still considering appealing the judge’s ruling.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.