Colchester Causeway to close for bike path repairs

Published: Aug. 1, 2019 at 5:22 PM EDT
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If you've been out biking on the Colchester Causeway this summer, you've probably noticed the signs telling you that starting next month, it will be closed for repairs.

The Colchester Causeway draws tourists and locals to pedal out for unparalleled views of Lake Champlain.

"I think it's one of the most beautiful places in the world, really!" said Beth Sumner of Malletts Bay.

But the views come at a price-- being at Mother Nature's mercy.

"There are some washouts, but it's still usable," said Joseph Edwin of South Burlington.

On May 4, 2018, the perfect storm of high lake level and strong winds caused washouts on the Causeway. It was closed, FEMA came to investigate and the state stepped up to make emergency repairs. Those have kept it open for two summers now. But the town says they're wearing out.

"They'll be coming in with some more armor rock, redoing the surfacing material that is there," said Glen Cuttitta, the director of Colchester Parks and Recreation.

That's because this spring, high water waves chipped away at the path again. Signs and orange cones mark the spots where cyclists have to watch out.

"There was some washouts that occurred," Cuttitta said.

Some areas that were filled in after last year's damage got washed out again during the high waters this spring. So the large boulders that they're bringing in will hopefully shore up areas like that better in the future.

The fixes won't come cheap-- $1.8 million in all. The feds are bearing the brunt of that and the state is pitching in, too. Colchester residents are on the hook for $100,000.

Being closed for Labor Day cuts out the fall but gives the contractor the chance to take advantage of low water levels.

Cyclists we spoke with were just happy they got the summer.

"We were just saying that-- at least they kept it open this summer," Sumner said.

"I'm very grateful that it's open and it'll be even better when they fix it up a little bit more," said Arnie Malina of Burlington.

Now, the town knows that some people might be upset that they can't bike out here during foliage season, but they say there are other opportunities, including heading along the bike path the other way toward Burlington. They say that will also give you great views.