Legislators on the House Transportation Committee met online Tuesday and learned the long-awaited cross-state, 93-mile, multi-use, year-round Lamoille Valley Rail Trail will be ready for full access this year.

The hearing for the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Diane Lanpher, of Vergennes, and includes Rep. Brian Smith, of Derby, was a chance for Agency of Transportation officials to explain the remaining trail and bridge construction, signage plans and post-completion management efforts.

It was also an opportunity for Cindy Locke, executive director of Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, to address the committee for what is the last time in an LVRT management position.

“This is my last meeting to talk to you about LVRT,” said Locke.

VAST invested multiple years and money ($3.5 million) to commence the LVRT construction effort and manage the open sections of the trails. With the completion of the full St. Johnsbury to Swanton trail mere months away, VTrans will assume management over the trail. Annual maintenance costs for the full trail have been predicted to run about $350,000.

Locke said it’s hard to part with the management of the trail, but said VAST will remain a supporter of the trail and assist VTrans any way it can, including wintertime grooming.

“The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail for us is a child that we’ve raised and we’re sending off to college, and so we’re not just letting that kid go. Like, we’re not changing their room. Their room’s going to be here in case they have to come back home,” she said.

In terms of management, Amy Bell, AOT planning manager, addressed the committee about project goals. Among them is an effort to identify a “unified, trail-wide vision.” Bell said there will be extensive outreach to stakeholders in the trail’s use and success.

Joel Perrigo, AOT’s Interim Municipal Assistance Program Manager, provided a trail segment update and said all segments will be completed by November. A map he shared noted the status of each segment. Heading from east to west, he started with the 15.4-mile St. Johnsbury-Danville that has been complete since 2015. Next on the line is the Danville to Hardwick section that is 17.9 miles. It is still being constructed by GW Tatro Construction for $2.25 million. Completion is set for no later than Nov. 12.

Perrigo’s map shows in addition to St. Johnsbury-Danville there are three other sections - a short downtown Hardwick segment, 17.4 miles between Morrisville and Cambridge and the westernmost section spanning 11.6 miles between Sheldon and Swanton - that are complete. Of the remaining work, J.P. Sicard, based in Barton, is under contract to handle a bridge project in Fairfield at a cost of $3.47 million.

Perrigo said adding signage will commence next year.

Committee members spoke favorably about the work that’s been done and the planning in place for future use and management.

“This is one of those things where we bring passion to our work,” said Rep. Diane Lanpher, chair of the committee. “We love seeing these things conceived and develop over time and then actually work for Vermonters in a great way.”

She called the LVRT a “big investment and a terrific recreational opportunity.”


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