by Andrew Martin
The project to build the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) recently received another boost. On Tuesday, October 2, it was announced that the Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC) had received a $249,982 grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission to support access to the LVRT. Such grants are awarded in order to support regional development, and along with the grant to the LVRT an additional $123,465 grant was awarded to help develop business clusters in the Northeast Kingdom.
“This grant is critical to the Towns’ efforts to move people from the trail into communities. It will strengthen village-trail connections and bolster the County’s efforts to promote tourism and recreation as fundamental parts of our economy,” said LCPC Board Chair George Robson in a press release.
According to the LCPC, the funds will be used to construct trailheads in Cambridge, Hyde Park, Johnson, Morristown, and Wolcott. LCPC will be partnering with the towns where the trailheads will be located during the construction. The $249,982 will be further leveraged by a $5.2 million dollar grant that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders previously secured for the repair and improvement of the 93-mile, state-owned trail that will eventually run continuously from Swanton to St. Johnsbury.
“These two grants will help bolster efforts to promote conservation, tourism, and recreation, which are fundamental to the economy of northern Vermont,” commented Senator Sanders via press release.
The news regarding the new grant for the LVRT comes after a summer when the project received a great deal of other funding. In July the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it would be providing 90 percent of the necessary funding to repair several bridges and sections of trail along the route that had been damaged during the heavy flooding that occurred throughout 2011. It is estimated that the storms in the spring of 2011 caused roughly $400,000 in damage while Tropical Storm Irene caused an additional $250,000 in damage to the trail system.
It is hoped that the repair and regularly scheduled work will be taking place on the LVRT in the near future, possibly as soon as 2013. Recent work on the project included the submission of the Act 250 permit for the trail system as well as work by the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) to work with the towns that the trial will run through on what to expect once construction work begins while also seeking access points to the trail from town roads.
Once the initial work is complete the LVRT will be built in three phases. Phase I of the project will include the opening of sections of trail from St. Johnsbury to West Danville, Morrisville to Cambridge Junction, and Sheldon to Swanton. Phase 2 of the project would occur at a later date and involve rebuilding and opening sections of trail from Greensboro to Morrisville and from Cambridge Junction to Sheldon. The final section of the trail from Greensboro Bend to Danville would be constructed in Phase 3.