Trails Talk: Part1

The Charlotte Nature Trail. Photo by Sarah Soule.

The Charlotte Town Link Trail has been in the news frequently over the past several months. Although this trail has been in the works for about 20 years, now that it is becoming a reality many townspeople are more interested in the trail and have more questions about it. In an effort to answer as many questions as we can, the Trails Committee is starting this column, Trails Talk, in The Charlotte News.

Someone on Front Porch Forum cited a website where people could post questions about Charlotte trails. Since many questions are already posted on that website, we will begin Trails Talk by answering those questions. It will take a few months to respond to all the questions. To view the questions, please visit

Here are some pieces of information to help everyone frame the questions in this column:

A trails scoping project was just completed in June 2017. The project was possible because of a VTRANS grant. The Town of Charlotte had to give a 20-percent match for the grant funds. The town money used for this scoping project was already in the town budget.

The Trails Committee recently received a letter of support from the Selectboard to apply for another VTRANS grant in July 2017. This new grant would be for construction of the State Park Road section of the Town Link Trail. The Town of Charlotte would give a 20-percent match if we do get the grant. At this time, there is about a 50/50 chance of us receiving grant funding because there are so many other towns in Vermont applying for the same grant money. And even if we do get chosen for a grant, the town can still decide not to accept the grant funds. VTRANS will notify all grant applicants in late September or early October.

Here are the first five questions from the above website, with answers.

Q: Does cost estimate for the 2,627 linear feet of the Charlotte Town Link Trails Segment A encompass the entire trail or just a portion? If just a portion, and I will call this phase 1, how much is phase 2 and 3?

A: This question refers to the trails scoping project that was just completed for the town. The scoping project looked at options for the trail on two sections. Section 1 is State Park Road, which is 2,627 feet long, from Mt. Philo to the Melissa and Trevor Mack Trail (Segment A). Section 2 is from Cohousing north into West Charlotte Village (Segments B and C). The draft scoping report can be viewed by going to the town website. The report is long and may be on the website in sections, but it shows the options for each section and the estimated costs.

Q: Since this is an estimate and the town trails would not be completed all at once, what do you estimate the price per linear foot to be five and 10 years from now for Phases 2 and 3 (Segments B and C) and completion of Phase 1?

A: Since we can only estimate with current values, we would estimate that there would be an increase that matches the cost of living increase each year.

Q: Will there be open bidding for this project? If not, who will be building our trails?

A: The Town’s purchasing policy requires open bidding, and the grant funding policy requires us to get several bids. What this means is projects are advertised in newspapers and online, but a minimum number of bids is not required. Nevertheless, we try to obtain at least three bids.

Q: How much is the underpass on Route 7 going to cost if not included in the proposed price? Will there be sufficient lighting at night? What happens if teenagers decide to drink or smoke pot under there? What do our state troopers say about handling a situation like this?

A: The underpass is being built with state/federal funding, not Charlotte town funding. The underpass is almost complete and we hope to be able to use the underpass and the two Town Link Trail sections it connects this fall. There is no lighting in the underpass or on any part of the Town Link Trail.

Many of you may not know that there is a similar underpass on Dorset Street in South Burlington. It is used mostly by Vermont National Golf Club carts/people. It is certainly closer to Burlington and in a much more densely populated area of our county. To my knowledge, there have been no teenagers drinking/smoking pot (and it is close to South Burlington High School) in the Dorset St. underpass which has been there for at least 10 years.

Q: Shelburne Village has blinking yellow lights flashing at a crosswalk when someone wants to cross the road by the Shelburne Museum offices. Have you considered this instead of a tunnel? If you have, would you please explain the pros and cons?

A: The underpass has been in the state plans for updating Route 7 for about 10 years. The State of Vermont decided that the underpass was the best option for crossing Route 7 safely.

Thanks for all the questions. Stay tuned for the answers to the next group of questions when Trails Talk continues in the next Charlotte News.