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Montpelier Breaks Ground On Long-Awaited One Taylor Street Transit Center

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at One Taylor Street, in Montpelier on Tuesday, May 29.
Amy Kolb Noyes
/
VPR
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at One Taylor Street, in Montpelier on Tuesday, May 29.

Construction will soon be underway on a multimodal transit and welcome center in Montpelier. It’s known as the One Taylor Street project — and it’s been a long time coming.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, Gov. Phil Scott and Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson were among a line of dignitaries who lifted shovels full of dirt to mark the start of construction for One Taylor Street. But you have to go quite a ways back to get to the beginning of the project, as former Montpelier City Councilman Jon Anderson explained.

"This really grew out of a city/state study that was done in the early '90s," Anderson said.

Anderson sat on the committee that envisioned the first iteration of the project, which will be built on what is currently a 1-acre parking lot. It's where there used to be a Greyhound bus stop, just across the railroad tracks behind the Capitol Plaza hotel.

Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson presided over the groundbreaking ceremony, which included speeches from Sen. Patrick Leahy and Gov. Phil Scott.
Credit Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR
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VPR
Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson presided over the groundbreaking ceremony, which included speeches from Sen. Patrick Leahy and Gov. Phil Scott.

Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson indicated at the groundbreaking that the final project will be much more than a new bus stop.

"This project will provide a safe way for bikes and pedestrians to get through town," Watson said. "It will provide 30 units of critically-needed additional housing right in the center of our downtown and it will provide an indoor shelter for buses – a literal hub of transportation for Montpelier."

City government is solidly behind the project, but Anderson said it wasn't always that way.

Former City Councilman Jon Anderson was part of the committee that first envisioned the 1 Taylor Street project.
Credit Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR
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VPR
Former Montpelier City Councilman Jon Anderson was part of the committee that first envisioned the One Taylor Street project.

"We worked on it from the mid-90s until about 2002," Anderson said. "We had to petition – the city, at that time, didn’t quite understand the importance of the project so we had to petition for a bond vote."

The vote passed, and Anderson said having local dollars in-hand moved the project to the front of the line for federal funds. In 2003, Leahy and the late Sen. Jim Jeffords secured two earmarks for the project, totaling $7 million.

"We thought it would go much faster than it did," said Anderson, "but there were many, many bumps along the way that people ran into and solved."

Those bumps involved a couple of different federal agencies and took years to sort out. Montpelier City Manager Bill Fraser outlined some of the problems when he spoke at the groundbreaking:

"This was a hazardous waste site," Fraser said. "It took us three years with [the] EPA to get a plan approved for how to do it. Immediately after we completed that, FEMA remapped the flood maps and this all became floodway, which would have not allowed anything to be built here."

The floodplain mapping took another two years to sort out.

The delays and rising costs led project developer Redstone, Inc., to conclude the housing part of the project was no longer viable. So the city pivoted, partnering with Downstreet Housing and DEW Construction, to ensure a mix of market-rate and affordable apartments would remain in the plans.

And the last couple years have seen some complicated downtown land purchases to make way for the center and an associated recreational path over the river, between Taylor Street and Main Street. The completed One Taylor Street project will also include public art and serve as a welcome center for the capital city.

Despite the intervening decades and multiple roadblocks, Anderson said the One Taylor Street project doesn’t stray far from his committee’s vision back in the early 1990s.

Gov. Phil Scott and others look cover a model of the project.
Credit Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR
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VPR
Gov. Phil Scott and others look over a model of the project.

"From the get-go it was intended to have — about half was going to be transit center and a visitor’s center, a bike path," explained Anderson, "and then the other half was gonna be public use."

They originally envisioned the public use to be a downtown park, Anderson said, "but as the project evolved, then the public use became the housing component. So, you can only put so much on an acre of ground, but it’s a really good combination of what we’ve got here."

Anderson said he believes the project has only improved over the years. Many people at the groundbreaking agreed One Taylor Street will be worth the wait.

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