News Release — Green Mountain Club
Sept. 16, 2013
Will Wiquist at (802) 241-8212
BOLTON, Vt., September 16 – The Green Mountain Club today broke ground on a suspension footbridge for the Long Trail over the Winooski River, an effort 101 years in the making. With permits and designs in hand, the 10,000 club which built and maintains the Long Trail celebrated this historic milestone while continuing to ask Long Trail enthusiasts to support the project.
“It is with great pride that I join in kicking off this historic project for Vermont’s Long Trail,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin who joined the celebration. “The state has long enjoyed a strong partnership with the Green Mountain Club in conserving and maintaining America’s oldest long distance hiking trail. This footbridge continues this partnership by linking, through the Long Trail, two of our state’s most iconic mountains: Camels Hump and Mt. Mansfield.”
In 1912, legislation was introduced to build a bridge for the Long Trail over the Winooski River in Bolton. In 1913, $500 was appropriated to the project. At the time, the club had just completed the first stretch of trail from Smugglers Notch to the river. Since then, 25 cent ferry rides from a local farmer and long road walks have been the hallmarks of crossing the Winooski River on the Long Trail.
“I am profoundly thankful to all of our Green Mountain Club members who have volunteered their time, their ideas and their boots on the ground, and, of course, their financial support to this important project,” said Green Mountain Club President Jean Haigh. “I’ve seen an enormous amount work accomplished over the past years to reach this point and it could not have happened without the encouragement and support of our members and our staff. This is a major milestone in the history of the Green Mountain Club and it is my hope that folks will continue to provide for the project as we move forward. There is a lot more work to be done.”
The club has raised more than $1 million for this project and will utilize more than $500,000 in state funding for land conservation and trail work. For the last three decades, the club and the state have worked together to conserve more than 25,000 acres of high elevation forestland for the Long Trail thanks to the leadership of former Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. Dick Mazza, both of whom attended today’s event, and the late Sen. Bob Gannett.
“This is a remarkably complex project and it’s frankly amazing it only took 101 years to see shovels in the ground,” said Will Wiquist, GMC executive director. “With a major river, an interstate, an active railroad, a state highway and a town road all within a few hundred yards, I am inspired by the work of our staff and volunteers to pull this together and find a permanent corridor for the Long Trail to a spot where we can build a footbridge. Soon we’ll be rid of three and a half miles of road walking on the Long Trail.”
The 224’ suspension footbridge will be built by the Green Mountain Club using designs produced by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. of Ferrisburgh. The club is seeking bids for major concrete and excavation aspects of the project and has hired a firm to produce the steel towers.
The club expects to make major progress on the project this fall. After a winter hiatus, the club expects to complete the project in 2014, opening the bridge as part of the Long Trail next year.
The club’s Long Trail Patrol has already begun work on relocation of the Long Trail on GMC-conserved land north of the river. The trail crew is working to connect the bridge to Mt. Mansfield State Forest above Bolton Valley, much of which was conserved by the club in partnership with the state.
The Green Mountain Club thanked Gov. Shumlin and the state of Vermont for their support. They also thanked Gov. Dean, Sen. Mazza, Sen. Gannett and others in Montpelier who have supported and continue to support Long Trail Protection efforts; the town of Bolton; each and every one of the club’s 10,000 members with special thanks to the Burlington and Montpelier Sections of the Green Mountain Club who maintain the Long Trail in the Winooski River Valley.
The club also thanked Daan Zwick and all the generous supporters; Vanasse Hangen Brustlin; New England Central Railroad; Sen. Patrick Leahy; the Norwich University Civil Engineering Department; the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board; Button Surveyors; Engineers Construction; TD Bank; Kleinhans Construction and Welding; and current and past staff of the GMC including Dave Hardy, Maisie Howard, Pete Antos-Ketcham, Susan Shea, Ben Rose and Matt Wels, the bridge project manager and foreman, and his crew, who will build this bridge.