Rutland Begins Construction Of Long-Awaited Bike Path
05/01/10 9:34AM By Nina Keck  Download MP3
(Host) Burlington has one. Stowe has one. And in the coming years, Rutland will have one, too.
As VPR's Nina Keck reports, construction has begun on Rutland's long-awaited bike and pedestrian path.
(sound of chain saws)(Keck) Forestry students from Stafford Technical Center cut through a tangle of trees and brush, clearing a 20 foot swath that will eventually be leveled and paved.
It's the first part of a two-mile bike and pedestrian path that will stretch from Rutland's Georgetti Park to the College of St. Joseph's. The work caps years of planning, fund raising, and organizing by local volunteers.(Schriebmann) "This is a true community project and by having the students come to start it is just a great way to show that all of the community is involved. Without community volunteers and activism, this project would never have happened."
(Keck) That's Susan Schreibman, a member of the Creative Economy's Recreation Committee.
She and committee member Paul Gallo say interest in a Rutland bike path dates back 20 years. But cost estimates from engineering studies were high and the project stalled.
Gallo says interest in the bike path got a second wind five years ago when the Creative Economy process began. He says they worked hard to keep costs down.
(Gallo) "We took advantage of low volume streets, such as one-way streets and a couple of dead end streets. We went from a two-bridge path to a one-bridge path and lopped off about $1 million right there in one bridge."
(Keck) Still, Gallo says, total cost estimates are between $1.5 million and $1.8 million. He says they've already spent over $120,000 on engineering studies - money they raised with grants and private donations. He says they've received $330,000 in state and federal transportation funds and a number of in-kind donations from local service and trade organizations.
(Gallo) "We will be chasing dollars. Obviously dollars will go a long way on this thing and I believe, personally, we will not have trouble. I think the Rutland community will get behind this and really push it."
(Keck) Gallo, Susan Schreibman and other volunteers made a point to be on hand this week as Stafford students began clearing the first part of the trail.(sounds of saws)
(Schreibman) "To finally start seeing something go from a plan to fruition - yeah, it's a lot of fun."
(Keck) Schreibman says if all goes well, the path will be completed in four to five years.
For VPR News, I'm Nina Keck in Rutland.