VAST lease agreement with VTrans renewed

  • By Don Balcom
  • 21 Feb, 2017

News & Events

By Don Balcom 12 May, 2017

The 1st Annual Lamoille Valley Rail Trail Bike-A-Thon will be held on Saturday, May 27th. It is a fundraiser with the goal of raising $3,000 for three great causes: Friends of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, American Legion, Cambridge Post - Mt. Mansfield Post #35 and the Cambridge Area Rotary Club and Foundation. 

Participants will ride their bikes on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to raise money! It's free and participants can register as individuals or as a team. The event will start at the Cambridge Junction trailhead in Jeffersonville, Vermont and offers riders 3 courses of various lengths. 

Event DetailsWhere: Cambridge Junction Trailhead, Jeffersonville, VT -  When: 9:00am, Saturday, May 27th. To learn more and to register, go to  

By Shane Prisby 12 May, 2017

With the construction of Bridge 68 underway, it is important to note that there may be an impact on river traffic down the Lamoille River. Paddlers should be aware that the contractor will be building causeways into the river and that there will be periodic overhead work. The bridge has been partially removed and the existing spans are structurally unsound. The current schedule has the contractor removing the existing spans and wooden piers in mid-June. Paddlers coming down the river should stay on the north side of the stone center pier and not pass under the existing bridge spans.


The only anticipated restriction of traffic through the worksite will be when the new bridge spans are being set. This work is currently slated for the first week in August. We will issue updates as we get closer to that point. It is important to be safe on the river and follow any instructions given by work crews.

By Don Balcom 11 May, 2017

Christine Pepe of Morrisville had the winning ticket for the raffle of two hybrid bicycles. The raffle wrapped up on Sunday May 7th at Earl’s Cyclery’s annual Bike Swap in South Burlington. Christine and her husband Chuck are proprietors of Muddy Moose a log cabin lodging establishment on Cote Hill Rode in Morrisville. Since 2012, this establishment with 5 miles of hiking trails, just across the Lamoille River from the LVRT has attracted outdoor enthusiasts from across the country that are attracted to the area by the increasing diversity of year-round recreational opportunities in the area, including the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.  


We are grateful to Earl’s for their generous donation that raised $3000 for the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Conversion of the former railroad corridor to a 93-mile four-season recreation trail is continuing this year with replacement of “Bridge 68” across the Lamoille River at Cambridge Junction.

By Shane Prisby 28 Apr, 2017
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) will be removing and replacing the Route 2B bridge that spans the LVRT in St. Johnsbury. The bridge span will be replaced with a 47-foot metal arch similar to the one under I-91. Beginning on May 10, 2017 , this portion of the LVRT will be temporarily closed to allow the contractor to safely remove the structure.  The project is part of the Accelerated Bridge Program which dramatically shortens the amount of time the trail would be closed. The trail will be reopened in mid-June once overhead work is completed. It is important that everyone obey all signs and instruction and to stay out of the construction zone! Other portions of the trail in St. Johnsbury and Danville will remain open for this period but there won't be connectivity between the two towns via the LVRT. For more information on the project and detour maps, visit:
By Beth Godin 17 Apr, 2017

Contact: Don Balcom
Telephone: 802-498-8356

Barre, VT, April 14, 2017– The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), a 501(c) (3) organization, is launching a three million dollar capital campaign for the continued redevelopment Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). When completed, the trail, extending 93 miles from St. Johnsbury to Swanton, will be the longest rail trail in New England. As a year-round recreational corridor, it serves walkers and runners, bicyclists, snowmobilers, horseback riders, cross country skiers and mushers. VAST Executive Director Cindy Locke believes that the trail is going to be the top four-season recreation destination in Vermont when it is completed. In addition to its recreational amenities, the LVRT will be a powerful economic engine for the 18 towns along its route.

Since 1997, VAST has partnered with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) in using the abandoned railroad right-of-way as a snowmobile trail. In 2005, federal funding was secured to begin construction of a multi-purpose trail. About a third of the trail has been completed with a 15-mile section from St. Johnsbury to West Danville and a 17-mile stretch from Morrisville to Jeffersonville in the town of Cambridge is now open. Response to the new trail is overwhelmingly positive both by users and businesses along the corridor.

Four more sections of the trail remain to be completed at an estimated cost of $10-$15 million. This year, a dilapidated railroad bridge over the Lamoille River in Cambridge (known as Bridge 68) will be replaced with a new 300’ recreation span. In addition, a one-mile section of the Cambridge Greenway will be reworked to be aligned with the LVRT and extend the trail from its current terminus to the new bridge. In the spring of 2018, construction will begin on the 12-mile section from Swanton through Sheldon, with completion by the fall of next year.

This past winter, VTrans and VAST renewed their partnership agreement under which VAST leases the rail corridor, oversees construction activities and maintains the completed portions of the LVRT. VTrans has committed to seeking up to 80 percent of the funding needed to finish the LVRT: the 18.4 mile stretch from Sheldon to Cambridge; 19.5 miles from Morrisville to Greensboro; and the 10.9 miles from Greensboro to West Danville. These funds will come through the federal railbanking program created under the National Trails Act.

The new capital campaign will seek funding from individuals, local businesses, foundations and municipalities. Most of the funds raised by the campaign will be for construction, but some will be allocated for ongoing trail maintenance. Last August, VAST hired Don Balcom of South Burlington, a 25-year veteran non-profit fundraiser, to serve as Campaign Manager. The campaign is scheduled to last until the end of 2018. If sufficient funds are secured, the entire trail will be completed two or three years later.

# # #

If you would like more information, please contact Don Balcom at 802-498-8356 or email at

By Shane Prisby 14 Apr, 2017
Beginning this spring, the remains of a dilapidated railroad bridge that once spanned the Lamoille River at Cambridge Junction will be replaced with a sleek new recreation bridge. The existing historic stone abutments and center pier (shown in the accompanying photograph) will be retained and refurbished. Bridge 68 is the second longest bridge along the LVRT – two 12’x125’ steel spans with wooden trim will be placed on the original stonework. In addition to the bridge itself, VAST and the Town of Cambridge have agreed to merge the LVRT with Cambridge Greenway for (about 500 feet) from the current LVRT terminus (by the Poland Covered Bridge) to the point where the LVRT turns northward toward the new bridge. The merged trails will be graded and resurfaced; new compatible signage will also be installed. Blow & Cote, Inc. a Morrisville general contracting firm specializing in bridge and road construction, has been awarded the contract for this work.

If you would like the name of your family or business associated with this project as a lead campaign sponsor, contact Don Balcom, Campaign Manager, at

What’s Next....
Beginning this spring, VAST will conduct an on-the-ground assessment of Phase 1C to update the preliminary engineering plans and get the project ready for construction, tentatively scheduled for 2018.

Note: Section 1C is Swanton, eastward to Sheldon, VT.
By Shane Prisby 14 Apr, 2017
The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) has gone through many years of planning and changes. The future of the trail is looking bright due to more participation from volunteers, other user groups and a larger presence by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTRANS). At this time, VAST has completed 33 of the 93 total trail miles. Another section will be connected with the completion of work to the historic Bridge 68 in Cambridge Junction.

Last summer, VAST held ribbon cuttings on the LVRT in all the towns the completed section of the trail runs through. The events started in St. Johnsbury at 9 a.m. and continued on to West Danville, Morrisville, Hyde Park and Johnson. We ended in the afternoon at Cambridge Junction.

Senators Rich Westman of Lamoille County and Jane Kitchel of Caledonia County introduced legislation into the Transportation Bill that was supported by Senate and House Transportation, and by VTRANS, that would allow the agency to match fundraising done by VAST. We look forward to updating you in the coming months once the details of this partnership have been solidified.

It is important to the project that other users help to raise money and fund the remaining rehabilitation of the trail. To date, VAST itself has put over two million dollars of its own money into the trail. In addition to funding, we also continue to look for volunteers to help along the trail. These volunteers can be Trails Scouts (folks looking for areas that need improvement), or Trail Masters (folks that are point persons to help lead groups for trail maintenance days or trail clean-up days).
By Shane Prisby 14 Apr, 2017
While the recreational benefits of the LVRT are widely extolled, other users enjoy its value as a resource for appreciating Vermont’s natural environment. Sheila Tymon, a high school teacher at Morrisville’s Peoples Academy since 1990, is currently teaching Environmental Science and Environmental Chemistry classes and using portions of the Trail near the school as a living laboratory. One of her teaching projects has been Lamoille River ecosystem health. Students assess the habitat parameters in and next to the river. They collect water and macroinvertebrate samples, analyze them and record the results. Some reports have been archived by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

In 2015, Alex Bickart, now a senior at Peoples Academy, studied erosion problems occurring in the Morrisville section. Washouts disturb the surface of the finished trail and, when they are large, may cause trail closures. Alex determined that the cause of erosion was not the natural flow of the river, but run-off from impervious layers on the Park Street side of the pathway, sending torrents of water rushing downhill. Alex suggested a remedy: installing a French drain system into the hillside to feed the stormwater into the culvert system constructed during the LVRT renovation.

Grace Safford and McKenna Black researched the threat of invasive species in the Lamoille River’s riparian zone. They developed an ingenious environmental health signage system using scannable technology as an outreach tool to educate trail users about environmental assets and threats. Grace wrote, “the greater the sense of place, the more people will protect it.”
By Shane Prisby 14 Apr, 2017
It takes a lot of support to rehabilitate old railroad bridges and replace rusted rails with pedestrian pathways to create the longest year-round recreational trail in New England! You can play an indispensable role in preserving not only Vermont’s natural landscape, but also a part of Vermont history by preserving the route of the state’s east - west rail passageway now known as the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Although the route no longer carries trains, it can still carry people – on foot, bicycle, snowmobile, cross-country skis and snowshoes, horseback, and even by dogsled!

Since October 2016, we have been in the quiet phase of a capital campaign to raise the remaining funds to complete the 60 miles still left to renovate on the 93-mile Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. We are now entering the public phase, where we need to raise $3 million dollars to match funding from the Vermont Department of Transportation (VTrans) to complete the Trail.

That’s a lot of miles and a lot of money. We’ll need some big gifts to reach our goal…But we also want you to know that no gift is too small to be a significant contribution to this historic project! (After all, the old railroad was built upon many individual ties.)

Please, contribute to the LVRT campaign today, either on our web site or by mailed check made out to LVRT. You can also call Campaign Director Don Balcom or Executive Director Cindy Locke for information on larger Trail sponsorship opportunities.
All aboard, folks! Let’s hit the Trail!
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