City of Montpelier

What will the new transit and welcome center at One Taylor Street in Montpelier be like? That's yet to be determined, and largely up to the community.

Over the next three months, Montpelier will be hosting three meetings to garner community input on specifics about the site and building, as well as the scale of the project. At a fourth meeting, in July, architects will present the resulting plans.

VPR/John Dillon

Officials with the Shumlin Administration are warning that some road projects scheduled for this summer may have to be scaled back if Congress does not replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund.

The state relies on the trust fund to match state dollars for transportation projects.

The American Automobile Association of Northern New England warned today that drivers taking “selfies,” or self-portraits, while driving are “becoming more prevalent on the roads.”

And the people taking the digital snapshots aren’t shy about it. A search on the photo sharing service Instagram for the hashtag #drivingselfie returns more than 8,000 photos. Users on Twitter and the social video service Vine also have posted hundreds or thousands of photos and videos taken while driving.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Buses from the Chittenden Country Transportation Authority are set to roll Friday after the company’s management and drivers came to an agreement to end an 18-day strike.

A group of jubilant drivers gathered near the bus depot at the intersection of Church Street and Cherry Street in Burlington Thursday afternoon after voting 53-6 in favor of a new contract.

StockSolutions / Thinkstock

In the past few years, many states, including Vermont, have embarked on hundreds of road and bridge construction projects and most of the projects were paid for with a large amount of federal funds.

But now there’s a problem. The Federal Highway Trust Fund is running out of money, and unless Congress acts to put more money in the Fund, many projects could be delayed this summer.

Sue Minter is the Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Transportation Agency. She says she’s very concerned about this situation.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin urged drivers and management of the Chittenden County Transportation Authority on Tuesday to agree on a contract deal as soon as possible.

Amid the third week of the drivers’ strike over working hours and conditions, Shumlin expressed concern for the CCTA’s regular passengers.

"We’re talking about 10,000 people,” Shumlin said. “Some of the most vulnerable Vermonters, who can’t get to work. Kids who can’t get to doctors, you know, parents who can’t get to doctors appointments. I mean, we’ve got to get this thing resolved.”

The Chittenden County Transportation Authority’s board of commissioners voted 12 - 1 Monday evening to authorize company management to seek temporary drivers so that service can be restored amid the strike by the drivers’ union.

Drivers for the Chittenden County Transportation Authority are now being paid to stand on the picket lines on Church Street in Burlington and in front of the CCTA headquarters.

“We did receive our first payment last week,” said driver Rob Slingerland, who has been acting as a spokesman for the striking drivers. But the payments aren’t dispersed to drivers unless they sign in for their shift on the picket line. The payments started the second week of the strike.

“If they’re not on line doing their shift,” he said, “they don’t get paid for the day.”

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Late Wednesday morning in the quiet hallways of Burlington High School, four students stand in a cluster near the cafeteria while their peers are in class. They’re discussing the merits of binding arbitration.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

The Chittenden County Transportation Authority and its drivers are locked in a bitter standoff, with both sides in disagreement publicly and privately on facts as basic as how long Saturday’s negotiation session lasted.

At a press conference Monday, Rob Slingerland, the spokesman for the drivers, said the CCTA’s release that came after the weekend negotiation session failed was marred with inaccuracies and half-truths.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Two days into their strike, Chittenden County Transportation Authority bus drivers said Tuesday they have prepared a counter-offer for management. But CCTA General Manager Bill Watterson said the company hasn’t seen a written proposal from the drivers.

The strike started Monday and has left thousands of passengers without reliable transportation. And even the union’s supporters hope the labor action ends soon.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Bus drivers and advocates gathered on Church Street in Burlington today to speak out against the management of the Chittenden County Transportation Authority, which they said is pushing for unfair working conditions.

The drivers union and CCTA management have been in an extended standoff since contract negotiation efforts failed in September, and drivers said a “best and final offer” made by management last month was unacceptable. The union voted that proposal down by a wide margin.

The Chittenden County Transportation Authority management and drivers are “really far apart” in contract negotiations and the drivers could strike if a Friday meeting doesn’t lead to a resolution, officials on both sides of the negotiations say.

The drivers are coordinating with Workers Center, a liberal advocacy organization, to hold a press event Wednesday outlining their problems with the management contract proposal.

VPR/Peter Hirschfeld

It’s being called the fiscal sinkhole. And it could be coming to a road near you.

In his budget address last week, Gov. Peter Shumlin unveiled a plan for record-setting transportation spending. But partisan politics in Washington, D.C., could soon threaten some of that money.

The problem is in the Federal Highway Trust Fund, a multi-billion dollar pot of money that accounts for about half of Vermont’s annual road budget. And it’s going to run dry in September unless Congress votes to fill it back up.

City of Montpelier

Montpelier officials announced a land purchase yesterday that will bring the city closer to its planned "Multi-Modal Transit Center" near the Statehouse and the Department of Motor Vehicles Building.

The city purchased a long-empty surface lot from Alan Carr, who was previously renting the property to the State of Vermont, for $1.4 million.

"Acquiring these properties is a critical step in redeveloping this important part of Montpelier," said Mayor John Hollar in a news release.

The Vermont Transportation Board will hold six public hearings this fall to gather public comment about transportation-related issues that face the state.

Topics to be covered are transportation revenues and energy; bike pedestrian Issues; the future of freight and passenger rail services; park and ride expansion; roadway safety; and public transit, Intercity service and service for the elderly.

Associated Press

An annual bike event in Shoreham two Sundays ago was marred by an alleged drunk driver who plowed into a group of cyclists, critically injuring two of them.

The incident on route 74 during the Tour De Farms bike ride, which featured more than 600 riders, angered and saddened but also galvanized Vermont’s cycling community, and we’re getting a gauge today on how cycling enthusiasts are feeling about the overall level of bike safety in Vermont.

The City of Montpelier has big plans for the lot at 1 Taylor Street, where the old Vermont Transit bus station used to be. Plans call for a multi-modal transportation center, a welcome center, a bike and pedestrian path, and public access to the Winooski River. The city has secured partial funding for the project through the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. One thing the city did not have, up until this point, was the land.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

Motorists Beware. Route 4, between Interstate 89 and Woodstock,  has seen three serious collisions over the past few months, claiming four lives.

Upper Valley residents say the road  is becoming more dangerous as drivers fail to pay attention to its sharp  curves and narrow lanes.

The latest victim of a Route 4 head-on collision was 72-year-old Ingrid Neuwirt. Police believe her car crossed the center line of the highway near the Interstate ramp, but they are still trying to figure out why.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

On Wednesday morning, at the Sunoco station off Route 2 in Montpelier, Bob Grant of Plainfield was filling up his black Chevy truck and two red canisters.

“This is for my garden tractor,” Grant said, pointing to the canisters. “I’m retired but I have a lot of gardens, a lot of lawn.”

The retired grocery store owner stared at the pump as his total climbed higher – above $60. And as his tank topped off, Grant said he would gladly pay the new 5.9 cent per gallon gas tax increase that went into effect on Wednesday in Vermont.