Lamoille Valley Rail Trail along the Lamoille River in Morrisville. Courtesy photo
Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), a 501(c) (3) organization, announced in a press release Tuesday that it is launching a $3 million capital campaign for the continued redevelopment Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). When completed, the trail, extending 93 miles from St. Johnsbury to Swanton, will be the longest rail trail in New England. As a year-round recreational corridor, it serves walkers and runners, bicyclists, snowmobilers, horseback riders, cross country skiers and mushers. VAST Executive Director Cindy Locke believes that the trail is going to be the top four-season recreation destination in Vermont when it is completed. In addition to its recreational amenities, the LVRT will be a powerful economic engine for the 18 towns along its route.
Since 1997, VAST has partnered with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) in using the abandoned railroad right-of-way as a snowmobile trail. In 2005, federal funding was secured to begin construction of a multi-purpose trail. About a third of the trail has been completed with a 15-mile section from St. Johnsbury to West Danville and a 17-mile stretch from Morrisville to Jeffersonville in the town of Cambridge is now open. Response to the new trail is overwhelmingly positive both by users and businesses along the corridor.
Four more sections of the trail remain to be completed at an estimated cost of $10-$15 million. This year, a dilapidated railroad bridge over the Lamoille River in Cambridge (known as Bridge 68) will be replaced with a new 300’ recreation span. In addition, a one-mile section of the Cambridge Greenway will be reworked to be aligned with the LVRT and extend the trail from its current terminus to the new bridge. In the spring of 2018, construction will begin on the 12-mile section from Swanton through Sheldon, with completion by the fall of next year.
This past winter, VTrans and VAST renewed their partnership agreement under which VAST leases the rail corridor, oversees construction activities and maintains the completed portions of the LVRT. VTrans has committed to seeking up to 80 percent of the funding needed to finish the LVRT: the 18.4 mile stretch from Sheldon to Cambridge; 19.5 miles from Morrisville to Greensboro; and the 10.9 miles from Greensboro to West Danville. These funds will come through the federal railbanking program created under the National Trails Act.
The new capital campaign will seek funding from individuals, local businesses, foundations and municipalities. Most of the funds raised by the campaign will be for construction, but some will be allocated for ongoing trail maintenance. Last August, VAST hired Don Balcom of South Burlington, a 25-year veteran non-profit fundraiser, to serve as Campaign Manager. The campaign is scheduled to last until the end of 2018. If sufficient funds are secured, the entire trail will be completed two or three years later.
Source: Barre, VT, April 14, 2017– The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers. www.lvrt.org