In East Montpelier, keep the Montpelier bike path going up to U-32 and on across town towards where the rail trail takes off at Route 14. Let's throw in some convenient trailheads with parking and access to to the Winooski River and a couple of mountain bike loops just for fun.
Download maps, photos, project details and a dash of inspirational dreaming: Cross Vt Trail Project Map and Vision (PDF).
We are Building the Bridge. CCS Constructors out of Morrisville placed the frame of the bridge over the Winooski on July 23, 2021. After all these years of preparation, the final lift went smooth and took about an hour. It's still an active construction site for now, and later in the Fall we'll have a ribbon cutting when it's actually open for people to use the bridge. But for now, just savoring the amazing launch across the water.
Check back to this page for updates as things progress!
And yes, we've come a long way, but fundraising is ongoing. Details here for project phases, budgets and fundraising status.
The biggest story here is that a truly grassroots citizen group is pulling off a major infrastructure improvement. This is made possible by VTrans and Federal Highway Administration believing in us and supporting the project development over many years. They provided several large federal grants that are paying for 80% of the cost of the bridge and some related expensive structures. But then the responsibility passed to CVTA to somehow pull together the engineering, permitting, landowner permissions and (this is the biggest part) the 20% of the cost that must come from local donors. We succeeded because hundreds of local individuals, businesses and municipalities all joined in to make construction of this bridge happen. Thank you to all!
The larger vision is to connect the regional trail network (Montpelier Bik Path, Central Vt Regional Path through Berlin, Barre and Barre Town, and the East Montpelier Trail) up to U-32 School and on across East Montpelier to where the Montpelier and Wells River Rail Trail begins at Route 14 (where the Cross Vt Trail continues in various forms on to the New Hampshire border). At the same time the project is providing immediate access to the Winooski River for fishing, paddling and just walking through conserved land along the banks, as well as new trailheads, parking and other amenities, along with some single track Mountain Bike style loop trails.
Construction of all the trails that will eventually flow through the new Winooski Bridge is underway and will be completed incrementally over the course of the next three summers 2021 - 2023. You can help! There are many places where volunteer effort will be make a real difference and (full disclosure) we are still raising money for the full build out of the trails. But the Winooski Bridge is by far the most expensive and difficult single component of the whole effort, and we are more than excited to be doing the hardest part first!
Route 2 in East Montpelier is a high speed (depending on traffic), busy road and truck route. The shoulders are wide, but often used by cars and trucks as turning or passing lanes. The state wide Cross Vermont Trail utilizes scenic roads often, to connect together existing sections of trail. But this road segment here has long been identified as the worst on our route, and so we are tackling the biggest problem, now.
Build a new, accessible trail, on conserved land in the woods and along the river, away from the road as far as possible. It's a big job. Especially since it includes heavily engineered structures - like the Winooski River bridge. And it's not just an engineering challenge. The trail design also involves the input of numerous land owners, as well as being environmentally sensitive and sustainable. The end result will be a permanent, conserved greenway corridor that families will enjoy for generations to come.
This keystone project is part of CVTA's larger effort to have a complete, off road route from Montpelier to Groton. We are talking now with landowners about the best places to put new trail, and hope to have many new projects to tell you about in the coming few years. For context, you can see the current alignment of the Cross Vermont Trail through this area on Maps 4, 5 and 6 of our trail guide. (Spoiler alert - it's mostly on the shoulder of Rte 2.) These projects will be a lot of work, too - but much less expensive, frankly, as they will be built incrementally with volunteers.
We are lucky that occasionally people choose to make a significant investment in the future of the Cross Vermont Trail by making a major gift. We are happy to talk together with supporters to make the process easy. Multi year pledges, gifts in the form of stock, and other considerations - let us know what might make the most sense for you.
If you would like, major gifts can be commemorated on the trail - on a bench at a scenic vista, with a plaque on a major structure. Your donation can help make real an important part of the trail, which can be dedicated to the memory of someone important to you. Let us know if this is something you'd be interested in talking more about.
Download detailed project description: Cross Vt Trail Project Map and Vision (PDF).
UPSHOT: We're excited to have succeeded in raising local matching funds to Build the Bridge and do the hardest part first. Construction is underway - but fundraising is ongoing to complete the full project from Gallison Hill Rd to Rte 14.
The bridge is by far the biggest portion of the project cost. The money is raised and "in the bank" - amazing, thank you everyone! It is being built by CCS Constructors, work began Fall of 2020 with completion by CCS scheduled Fall 2021.
This short section spanning the Berlin, Barre Town and East Montpelier town lines requires relocating and replacing the existing highway guardrail and other work within the area of the highway. The need for specialized contractors makes this the second biggest component of the total project cost. We have hired Courtland Construction out of Milton, to do the work, which is scheduled for August.
Describing it from west to east - We are building a new trailhead parking lot at Gallison Hill Road, across from the Civic Center. Then doing spot work to improve the Powerplant Road (the old railbed) out to the new Winooski Bridge (Phase 1). Beyond the bridge a new section of trail will be built through the forest, overlooking the river, to connect from the bridge to the "short but expensive section beside the highway, where the new guardrail is being built" (Phase 2). Finally, we will upgrade a remnant section of old 1950s version Route 2 to extend the path to conclude (for now) at a new trailhead parking lot. We've hired Dubois Construction for the Route 2 trailhead parking, their work is scheduled August or early Fall. The remainder of this phase is being built by CVTA without larger contractors, things are underway now and may be done by the end of 2021, but if not then, by Spring 2022.
We are building a long section of universally accessible bike path, winding across the forested bluff and including a connection to the school. When done, this will be the official route of the Cross Vermont Trail. In addition, a new single track mountain bike style trail will form a loop with the XVT and with the existing U-32 cross country trails. This phase is being built by CVTA, with youth conservation corps crews and with significant opportunities for volunteer involvement. Things are underway now and will be done and opened summer 2022.
A variety of smaller trails will be built between the new Cross Vermont Trail and the banks of the river to provide access for boating, fishing, and just enjoying the water. The XVT itself will become a portage for long distance paddlers to get past the Winooski Hydro powerdam. This phase is being built by CVTA together with partners including VT Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Things are underway now and will be completed by 2022.
Starting in 2022 we will be building the trail east from the new trailhead parking on Route 2, alongside the river, off to the side of the highway in the trees, to a road crossing near "Vermont Country Campers" RV dealership. At that point we will head cross country away from Route 2 to rejoin the old railbed and end up at Route 14 where the existing XVT is already on the railbed.
Abutments are complete with concrete cured and bridge bolted down. The trail approaches and site work on either side of bridge underway through the fall.
Excited to announce the award of a significant grant to help build "Phase Six" - the last leg for which we are still raising money. Big help as we ready to start building out to "the far Six" later next year. The award this week of $75,000 from Northern Border Regional Commission in federal funds gets us half way there. And a donation at the same time from a local trail supporter for $5,000 has kicked off raising the last half. We are looking forward to getting the full project built and open!
Parking lot and trailhead on Route 2, upstream of the big bridge, is under construction now.
The "in the woods" part of the larger Winooski Bridge project is underway. Thanks to our summer Americorps crew for kicking things off! Stay tuned for volunteer work opportunities. There are a number of ways volunteers will be able to make a real difference.
OVER THE RIVER
Paddling across the water, you can do it big bridge! See step by step how they lifted this giant bridge over the river.
See the whole story of the bridge install unfold through the lens of local photographer John Lazenby. Check out John's very cool image portfolio of the bridge installation day.
Or if you prefer a Yakety Sax Benny Hill style speeded up video version of the story, then check out VT Digger's youtube capturing the whole launch across the water in just one minute.
And first peek at dramatic aerial film of the launch over the river, from Montpelier photographer Jay Ericson.
Cranes are being positioned, temporary barge is placed in water. On "the big day" bridge will be suspended by cranes on both ends, balanced on the barge, while the final bolting is done to fix it in place on the abutments. A few more things to get straight before the install. Close!
The bridge has arrived! And been welcomed.
Abutments are being built now, and will be done in June. The bridge install is now forecast for later in the summer. Bridge is being fabricated out of state, then will be assembled and placed by our contractor once delivered to Vermont. Latest word from the fabricating company is to expect an early August delivery.
Going out to bid for next phase of construction in East Montpelier - getting off of Route 2.
The Winooski Bridge is being fabricated out of state, and we are waiting to hear from the fabricator for the good news that it is ready for delivery - right now planning on a late spring arrival. Once that happens, will be seeing a lot more action at the construction site.
Meanwhile, CVTA is advertising now for contractor bids to build the next phase of the big project beyond the bridge - installing a new guardrail and 650 feet of new trail at a bottleneck location where Route 2 is very close to the Winooski River. Most of our project along Route 2 will be built well off to the side of the road, in the woods and closer to the river. But in this one spot, there isn't room for that, and we have gotten permission from VTrans to build the new path right on the shoulder of the highway. For obvious safety reasons, this means installing a new (and stronger) guardrail to go between the trail and the highway traffic.
Things are quiet at the work site, sleeping under a blanket of snow. Behind the scenes, though, the construction fabricator is working away in order to be ready to deliver the bridge in the spring.
Deep foundation piles are being installed and tested. Once they are squared up, concrete pedestals can be framed and poured. Racing the weather here, but contractor still reports a chance the bridge could be delivered and installed in the first part of winter. Or if not that then next spring for sure.
Initial site prep is done. Waiting now for the arrival of specialized subcontractor to install the deep pilings that will support the bridge. Pile driving now anticipated for mid November. Actual bridge install will be some time after that . . . maybe still early Winter, but if not, then Spring for sure.
Big yellow machines are on site, "Phase 1" Winooski Bridge excavation and ground prep construction is underway.
Ceremonial Groundbreaking - great gathering and celebration by the many people who have supported the development of the project and gotten us to this point.
"Phase 1" Winooski Bridge construction contractor begins on site, reestablishing survey control points and staking out the work.