Work on Montpelier bike path extension underway

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Work is underway to nearly double the length of Montpelier's bike path along the Winookski River.

Heavy equipment is preparing the trail-bed along stretches of Barre Street. The nearly two-mile trail add-on has taken two decades of planning.

The new section will continue from where the current path ends downtown at Taylor Street, and will cross a new bridge over the North Branch River and continue all the way to Gallison Hill Road.

With biking season approaching, enthusiasts say the new path will be a vast improvement. "Right now, if you have to ride on the roads that's quite dangerous -- obviously mixing up with cars -- so having that be further not just allows people to ride safer, more comfortably, worry free, and can get them to where they want to go more," said Nick Pantano with Onion River Outdoors.

City officials say a grander plan to continue the path to Barre is on hold. "The original plan called for the path to go from Gallison Hill through Berlin, first to the Price Chopper shopping mall, and then eventually connect with Barre. There are some issues with the right-of-way in Berlin -- it was originally going to follow the rail line and then the rail said, 'No, we need that,' said Montpelier City Manager Bill Fraser. "So there's still a long term vision they'll connect but there's some real logistical problems with that."

The new bike path is expected to be completed by October.