Vermont State Route 289 navigates through pronounced rock cuts along a 2.3 mile course around the village of Essex Junction. The two lane freeway with climbing lanes has interchanges with Vermont 2A (Colchester Road), Vermont 15 (Center Road) and Vermont 117 (River Road). Provisions were built at both ends for the extensions west to Colchester and south to Williston. Kilometer based exit numbers are derived from the original planned build out of the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway:
Exit 1 – Vermont 127 (Heinburg Drive)
Exit 3 – Interstate 89
Exit 5 – U.S. 2/7 (Theodore Roosevelt Highway)
Exit 7 – Vermont 2A
Exit 9 – Vermont 15
Exit 11 – Allen Martin Parkway
Exit 12 – Vermont 117
Exit 13 – Redmond Road
Exit 15 – Interstate 89
The Chittenden County Circumferential Highway (CCCH) was a 15.8 mile long freeway bypass of Interstate 89 planned around the Burlington metropolitan area. Congress devoted $50 million to the project through a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Demonstration Grant as part of the 1982 Surface Transportation Act. The state of Vermont overtook the highway in 1986 following completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD).1,2
Origins of the bypass go as far back as 1967 with local municipalities adding provisions in their comprehensive plans. The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) formally included the circumferential highway within their regional plan in 1975.1,2
Benefits cited for the CCCH included the redistribution of traffic on radial routes serving northern and eastern areas of the Burlington area. The highway was divided into ten segments, labeled Segments A through J. Design and land acquisition was completed by the end of 1986 for the entire alignment and construction advanced on Segments C through F at Essex Junction to completion in October 1993.1,2
Remaining sections of the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway (Segments A/B in Williston and Segments G through J at Colchester) in the 1986 EIS were contested in 2003. Litigation on the original EIS determined that new EIS were necessary on all remaining unbuilt segments. Preparations began on an EIS for the section in Williston on November 26, 2004, with a completion date anticipated for Spring 2006.1,2 Legal and environmental permitting issues however prevented construction on the remaining sections. Furthermore, Governor Peter Shumlin (D) announced that the highway as originally planned would not be built in 2011.3
Vtrans and the CCRPC embarked on a number of projects meant to reduce traffic congestion and and traffic demand in the CCCH corridor. Known as the Circ Alternatives and started in 2011, the program included additional transit services, intelligent transportation system (ITS) improvements, modifications to intersections along VT 2A, 15, 117 and 127 and upgrades at interchanges along Interstate 89.3
East End – Essex, Vermont
Perspective from Vermont 289 east
Vermont 289 curves southward from the turnaround at the planned interchange with Allen Martin Parkway (Exit 11) to Exit 12 with Vermont 117. Photo taken 07/22/05.
Entering the half diamond interchange (Exit 12) with Vermont 117 (River Road) on Vermont 289 east. Photo taken 07/22/05.
Grading and a roadway stub lie beyond a set of barriers at the Exit 12 gore point for the unconstructed three mile link between Vermont 117 and Interstate 89 in the town of Williston. Photo taken 07/22/05.
Vermont 117 loops eight miles northwest from U.S. 2 and Interstate 89 in the town of Richmond to Vermont 2A/15 in Essex Junction. Photo taken 07/22/05.
Perspective from Vermont 117 south
Vermont 117 (River Road) straddles the north banks of the Winooski River through the partially built diamond interchange with Vermont 289. Photo taken 07/22/05.
A Vermont 15 trailblazer references the Vermont 289 connection with Centre Road (Exit 9), located 2.4 miles to the northwest. Photo taken 07/22/05.
Perspective from Vermont 117 north
Vermont 117 (River Road) crosses the Essex town lines two miles ahead of the on-ramp for Vermont 289 west. Photo taken 07/22/05.
Vermont 289 heads northwest from Vermont 117 (River Road) around Essex Junction. Vermont 117 continues west into the village along Maple Street, meeting Vermont 2A (Park / Lincoln Streets) and Vermont 15 (Pearl / Main Streets) in 2.4 miles. Photo taken 07/22/05.
West End / Suzie Wilson Road – Essex, Vermont
Perspective from Vermont 289 west
Vermont 289 arcs west 1.9 miles from the Vermont 15 overpass at Butlers Corners to Vermont 2A (Colchester Road) at Exit 7. Photo taken 07/22/05.
Rock cuts line both sides of Vermont 289 preceding the half diamond interchange (Exit 7) with Vermont 2A (Colchester Road). Photo taken 07/22/05.
Exit 7 separates from the Vermont 289 mainline for Colchester Road. Grading and a roadway stub were completed for the unbuilt western extension of the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway. Photo taken 07/22/05.
Vermont 2A loops through the Essex Junction village center north from U.S. 2 at Williston to U.S. 2/7 at Colchester. Photo taken 07/22/05.
Perspective from Suzie Wilson Road east
Suzie Wilson Road winds northeast from Vermont 15 (College Parkway) to Vermont 2A (Colchester Road) at Vermont 289. Photo taken 07/22/05.
Suzie Wilson Road connects with Vermont 2A opposite the eastbound on-ramp for Vermont 289. The controlled access link from Kellogg Road to Colchester Road was completed in 1993. Photo taken 07/22/05.
VTrans Project Page: Chittenden County Circumferential Highway (CCCH). http://www.aot.state.vt.us/EIS/Default.htm.
VTrans/FHWA Williston EIS website. http://www.circeis.org/
The 1965 Greater Burlington Urban Area Highway plan for the Essex Junction Belt Line outlined a realignment of VT 15 closer to the village center. It also included a number of other new highways, including an expressway through Downtown Burlington.