Island Line Rail Trail Opens Ahead of Fourth of July Holiday Weekend
Governor Phil Scott, Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn, representatives from the towns of Colchester and South Hero, Vermont Fish and Wildlife, Local Motion, local and state officials and supporters celebrated the official reopening of the Lake Champlain Island Line Rail Trail, several days ahead of schedule.
“I commend the work of our state and local officials to complete this project ahead of schedule and in time for the busy holiday weekend, which is important for the community and our tourism sector,” said Scott. “The partnerships that made this happen are examples of the ‘can do’ attitude here in Vermont.”
“We recognize that thousands of Vermonters and visitors to our state were planning summer outings to this nationally-recognized Rail Trail,” said Flynn. “Within two weeks of a May meeting between officials, Agency of Transportation staff and partners had developed a plan, secured permits and advertised for construction services. I thank the Governor for his attention to this project, and my team and partners for their work.”
On June 18, crews from local construction firm Engineers Construction, Inc. began working 12 hours a day, six days a week, wrapping up the project in time for the July 4th holiday week. In those 11 days, 350 truck trips across the causeway delivered 3,700 tons of stone and surfacing materials to restore the trail and allow it to reopen for the 2018 season. The cost of the restoration totaled approximately $290,000, funded by Federal Highway Administration and Agency of Transportation investments. Gordy Eastman of WSP provided construction management services, working creatively to expedite the project and facilitate the logistics of moving a massive amount of material into a very constrained construction site.
The trail was heavily damaged by a strong storm on May 4, when wind, rain and waves pummeled a three-mile stretch of the 14-mile trail, reducing the 10-foot-wide pathway to six inches in some places. The extensive damage resulted in closure of the trail – impacting the Island Line Bike Ferry Service, provided by Local Motion. The ferry service typically runs from May to October each year, transporting 16,000 people annually across the 200-foot cut in the causeway between Colchester and South Hero.
The Island Line Rail Trail is an invaluable recreation resource to the State of Vermont attracting visitors from across the U.S. and Canada, as well as international travelers. The rail trail is the longest trail in the world to be constructed across a water body.