Local business leaders have joined the groundswell of support for a rail-trail project which, when complete, will run 93 miles through the communities and recreational and rural lands of northern Vermont.
“I think it’s great for us,” Executive Director of the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Cindy Locke told the Stowe Reporter last week. “It’s going to be great for tourism. It’s going to be great for the community, especially in this day and age where we’re trying to be more active.”
Locke and fellow Vermont business people are celebrating a Vermont environmental court’s decision to grant approval to begin construction on the 44-mile Phase 1 of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. With funding already in place, work on phase 1, between Morrisville and Cambridge, could begin next spring.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). is one of the trail’s biggest backers, eager for the much-needed local jobs it will create.
“Once built, the trail will be a huge attraction for tourists who come to Vermont in the winter to snowmobile or ski, or in the summer to bike and hike,” he says. “These tourists will stay in our hotels and inns, eat in local restaurants, visit other Vermont attractions and buy Vermont products.”
“I see this as playing a significant role in creating jobs, in a part of the state where we really need those jobs.”
When complete, the Lamoille Valley Rail-Trail will be the longest in New England. This four-season trail will be open to walkers, cyclists and horseback riders in the summer, and for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling during the winter.
Though parts of the corridor are already open to snowmobile use in the winter, the effort to open the trail to summer uses is being spearheaded by the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), which currently leases the disused rail corridor from the state. VAST is coordinating management and promotion of the project, as well as providing funds and donated effort to match federal investment.
For more information, visit lvrt.org. Be sure to watch the wonderful video on the trail project, it's history, backers and potential benefits to the region.