A ribbon cutting in South Hero today officially reopened the Lake Champlain Island Rail Trail after a storm in May caused significant damage to the popular biking destination.
Wind, rain and waves hammered a three-mile stretch of the trail, causing the pathway, which is typically ten feet wide, to shrink to as little as six inches in some spots. Initially, the path was supposed to be closed all summer, but after coming to see the damage, Governor Phil Scott and the Department of Transportation decided South Hero is too important to Vermont tourism to have the causeway closed for such a long period of time.
Ray Allen, a South Hero dairy farmer who has lived in the area his entire life, said he’s happy with the way Governor Scott and the Department of Transportation handled the repairs.
“Sometimes farmers have to make do, and I’m glad to see the state hasn’t forgotten how to do that. You got a project, you put your heads together and all the people that the Governor mentioned got together and made this all happen.”
Work to repair the path began on June 18, with crews working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week to ensure the project was finished on time. The goal was to have it open in time for the July 4 holiday week, but with Friday’s opening, crews managed to finish the project ahead of schedule.
Vermont Secretary of Transportation Joe Flynn spoke with us about how impressed he was with the effort.
“As you can see from the width of the trail, to bring 360 truckloads out here was an art unto itself, and they did this without mishap and sooner than had been forecasted.”
3,700 tons of stone were delivered to the trail, with the total cost of restoration estimated at $290,000. The project was funded by the Federal Highway Administration and Agency of Transportation.