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Putting the brakes on the Circ.

Highway-driven sprawl in Vermont was dealt a precedent-setting blow on May 10, when the federal district court ordered a halt to construction of the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway. "The Circ" is a proposed 16 mile-long freeway that, CLF and other environmental groups argue, would draw commercial and residential development away from Burlington's vibrant downtown area. The court ruled that the federal and state transportation agencies violated the National Environmental Policy Act by relying on 17-year-old environmental impact studies and failing to examine the induced sprawl likely to be caused by the highway. This is the first time a New England court has recognized that the impact of sprawl must be assessed during the environmental review of a proposed highway.

In September 2002, President Bush issued an executive order to expedite or "streamline" the environmental review process for a select group of high priority transportation projects, including the Circ. This "fast track" policy may have caused the inadequate environmental review that ultimately led to the court's decision to stop construction.
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Title Annotation:Vermont; Chittenden County Circumferential Highway
Publication:Conservation Matters
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U1VT
Date:Mar 22, 2004
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