Lamoille Valley Rail Trail faces hurdles - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail faces hurdles

Berlin, Vermont - March 24, 2011

The Lamoille Valley Rail trail is a proposed four-season pedestrian path. It would stretch nearly 100 miles from Saint Johnsbury to Swanton, but it has hit some hurdles on the path to construction.

Bryant Watson, Executive Director of the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, said, "We are trying to determine what the state of Vermont's commitment is to this project and their willingness to work with VAST as our partner."

VAST presented the plan 12 years ago. The organization says the project would stimulate the economy in rural areas that are struggling in our state.

"We are going to clean the ditches, de-brush the sides of the trail, scarify the surface, put a new surface down, and replace bridges that need to be replaced," Watson explained.

The project hit a snag when state officials decided the rail trail needed Act 250 approval. So, VAST invited lawmakers to a special meeting in Berlin Wednesday to try to find a way around the permitting process, or help getting through it.

Watson said, "If we do have to we want to make sure that we are going to get a commitment from the state that they will assist us in that process."

The rail trail has an estimated $9 million price tag. VAST has raised $1.3 million for the project, and Senator Bernie Sanders secured $5.3 million in federal money, but those federal funds will not last forever.

"If we get in a long drawn out process with Act 250 that money could go away," Watson said.

Four previous projects similar to the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail did not require Act 250 approval. With more than 900 property owners along the path some fear getting everyone on board will be nearly impossible, thus derailing the rail trail.

"We see that Act 250 is expanding, it's kind of expanding its grounds and covering projects it never has covered in the past," said Watson.

Special Assistant to the Governor Susan Bartlett sees it differently. She said, "A lot of them are upset and oh it is not fair, and we cannot do it. Well they went through a legal process to challenge whether they needed it or not. The results came back; they were told they need to go through the process so they need to go through the process."

Bartlett said the group has backing from the governor and should not be gun-shy about the permitting process. "They have the green light on all the difficult things that deal with storm water, replacing culverts and rebuilding bridges. All kinds of things," she said.

But supporters like Kenneth Gamell disagree, "It is not fair, and I think it needs to be corrected."

"My grandson was 2 years old I promised he and I were going to ride from Saint Johnsbury to Swanton, and he was going to sit between my legs on the snow machine. Today, he is 14 years old and weighs 180 pounds, and he is 6 feet tall. I do not think he can sit between my legs anymore," Gamell said.

Molly Smith - WCAX News

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Police investigate Hinesburg woman shot by male relative

    Police investigate Hinesburg woman shot by male relative

    Thursday, April 24 2014 10:08 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:08:02 GMT
    Vermont State Police and Hinesburg police were on the scene at a shooting in Hinesburg at 8:45 p.m. Thursday night.Officials say a 71-year-old man shot a female relative. She was shot in the hand and chest and taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care where she is currently in stable condition.The man is in custody and police say there is currently no motive for the shooting and that there were no prior issues with the relatives.Police are currently still investigating the shooting.More >>
    Vermont State Police and Hinesburg police were on the scene at a shooting in Hinesburg at 8:45 p.m. Thursday night.Officials say a 71-year-old man shot a female relative. She was shot in the hand and chest and taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care where she is currently in stable condition.The man is in custody and police say there is currently no motive for the shooting and that there were no prior issues with the relatives.Police are currently still investigating the shooting.More >>
  • Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:01:18 GMT
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
  • Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:31 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:31:24 GMT
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
  • Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Thursday, April 24 2014 2:29 PM EDT2014-04-24 18:29:39 GMT
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
  • 2 Vermont men charged in guns and drug case

    2 Vermont men charged in guns and drug case

    Thursday, April 24 2014 2:13 PM EDT2014-04-24 18:13:57 GMT
    Two Vermont men are facing federal charges stemming from the left of firearms from a Hardwick gun store and the trading of some of those guns for drugs.More >>
    Two Vermont men are facing federal charges stemming from the left of firearms from a Hardwick gun store and the trading of some of those guns for drugs.More >>
  • Drug bust in Burlington's Old North End

    Drug bust in Burlington's Old North End

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:18 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:18:27 GMT
    Police made a drug bust Wednesday night in Burlington's Old North End.More >>
    Police made a drug bust Wednesday night in Burlington's Old North End.More >>
  • Maine wire fraud trial of Vt. man set to conclude Friday

    Maine wire fraud trial of Vt. man set to conclude Friday

    Thursday, April 24 2014 5:49 PM EDT2014-04-24 21:49:11 GMT
    The wire fraud trial of a Vermont man convicted for the 2010 explosion that killed two workers at a New Hampshire gunpowder plant is nearing conclusion.More >>
    The wire fraud trial of a Vermont man convicted for the 2010 explosion that killed two workers at a New Hampshire gunpowder plant is nearing conclusion.More >>
  • 150 doctors targeted by tax fraud in NH, Vt.

    150 doctors targeted by tax fraud in NH, Vt.

    Thursday, April 24 2014 4:45 PM EDT2014-04-24 20:45:08 GMT
    New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has asked the Secret Service and Internal Revenue Service to investigate reports of tax fraud affecting more than 150 doctors and health care providers in the state and in Vermont.More >>
    New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has asked the Secret Service and Internal Revenue Service to investigate reports of tax fraud affecting more than 150 doctors and health care providers in the state and in Vermont.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.