Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail upgrades to provide links with regional network

Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 5:14 PM EST
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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - Federal funds are going towards rehabbing the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail, creating one of the largest trail systems in the Northeast.

The MVRT spans from St. Albans to Richford, with the 26.1-mile route passing through forests, farmland, and several cities towns, and villages. Now, Vtrans has received $1.44 million in federal funds to rehab the trail.

“This trail opened back in the 90s, and we continue to make investments in this trail to keep it a viable recreational opportunity for the state of Vermont,” said VTrans’ Daniel Delabruere.

Once complete, the MVRT will connect to the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail and Canada’s trail network, creating one of the largest regional trail networks in this part of the country. “It will connect to the 96 miles of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail and connect on the Canadian side. There’s no direct trailhead-to-trailhead access, but it brings you to Richford and Richford is a Canadian border customs crossing where you can cross into Canada,” Delabruere said.

Municipal officials along the corridor say the project will lead to more economic development opportunities, something they’re especially thankful for while communities are still dealing with pandemic impacts. “This is an area that is heavily dependent upon tourism, especially coming from the north. The Montreal area and COVID kind of really shut things down and it was felt on both sides of the border. Now, the border has been open, certainly, we’re hoping that we can make up for lost time trying to make up some of the differences,” said Swanton Town Administrator Brian Savage.

“The connection of the MVRT to Canada has always been special. I think it might just organically lead to more people thinking that, ‘I’m going to take a trip there -- St. Albans, I’m going to start it or end there and spend part of my day in the downtown as well,’” said Chip Sawyer, St. Albans’ director of planning & development.

Delabruere says the project will likely take a few years to complete but there’s no major construction that has to take place. “What this project is going to do is rehabilitate that surface for a new surface -- same product, just new -- and we are going to also extend the project just slightly from where it terminates now in St. Albans. We’re gonna connect it a little bit further, a little closer to downtown St. Albans on lower Newton Street,” he said.

“The MVRT has always been a more recreational resource for the city. Having an extension of the trail deeper into the city means that we can possibly make a stronger and easier connection for even more people or families to bike and walk right through downtown,” Swayer said.

Delabruere says the upkeep of Vermont’s trail network will remain a top priority.

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