Repair work underway on Colchester Causeway

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A month after a strong storm wreaked havoc on the Colchester Causeway, the state announced that by early July cyclists will hopefully be able to once again ride through Lake Champlain to the Islands.

The update came as welcome news to local residents like Steven Goldberg. "A month -- that's not too bad. It gives us a couple of months in the summer to take in the whole distance," Goldberg said.

"It leads to the bike ferry, which is kind of the main point of going out on the Causeway, so it'll be nice when it's back open and we can take it out there," said Anna Marie Carlson of Burlington.

Go out on the Causeway now past the first bridge where it's closed, and you'll see pitted holes and large washouts on the sides. Smoothing it back out won't be cheap or easy.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: Is that an aggressive timeline?
Aaron Frank/Colchester Town Manager: It is.

Frank also knows that the last time the Causeway needed repairs after flooding in 2011 it took 15 months to get it back open. Two whole recreation seasons were lost. "There's both an economic importance and just a recreational aspect, so those are two solid reasons to get it back open as quickly as possible," he said.

VTrans is taking care of the short term costs because of the importance of getting the Causeway back open quickly for recreation, but further repairs down the line to shore up the Causeway might be the responsibility of Colchester taxpayers.

"We'll be looking at other fixes that can be made to make it more resilient in the long term," Frank said.

Right now there's a $563,000 total tab to put the Causeway back the way it was. FEMA may help eventually, but for now, it's up to Vermont. VTrans estimates these repairs now will cost about $350,000, and riders say they're already underway.

"There's three guys out there right now working on it. They're fixing the first fishing pier, so it's very exciting," Carlson said.

Reopening the causeway also means reopening the bike ferry. Local Motion says once the repairs are done, the organization will start running service again to bring cyclists across to the Islands.