The Cross Vermont Trail Association has been working for 25 years to connect local trails into a walking and biking path across the state.

Now, thanks to state and federal grants and $250,000 in donations from the community, a 200-foot bridge that extends the trail across the Winooski River in East Montpelier is becoming a reality.

With help from contractors, youth conservation and volunteers, the $1.5 million project will connect the Montpelier bike path and the shoulder of busy Route 2 to a trail into the woods.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration funded 80 percent of the cost, while hundreds of local businesses and donors paid for the rest.

“So our idea is to build trails that connect together, town to town. So Montpelier to East Montpelier. Montpelier to Barre. So you can walk out your front, get on a trail, and just keep going,” said CVTA Executive Director Greg Western.

The bridge opens to the public in the fall. CVTA plans to have a ribbon cutting when it’s safe to walk, fish and bike on the new bridge.

“I think it’s yet another encouragement to get out and about for local folks, in particular, of all ages,” said donor Tino O’Brien from East Montpelier.