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Leahy, Sanders And Welch Announce More Than $1 Million In Federal Funding To Repair Colchester Causeway

April 29, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON (APRIL 26, 2019) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded $1,153,409 to repair the Colchester Causeway.  

The popular Island Line Trail connects the towns of Colchester and South Hero on a three-mile long causeway in Lake Champlain that was part of the former Rutland Railroad.  A May 2018 wind storm that saw gusts as high as 80 mph caused powerful waves that eroded large sections of the causeway and shut down the internationally renowned recreational path. The State of Vermont moved quickly to provide funds to complete repairs so the path could reopen for most of the 2018 biking season. 

The State also requested, with support from the congressional delegation, a federal disaster declaration for Chittenden, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange and Orleans counties, opening the door for federal recovery assistance.  The $1.153 million in FEMA funding will support the Town of Colchester as it undertakes more substantial and permanent repairs to the causeway and path.  The work is scheduled for the fall of 2019, to avoid path closures during the high-use summer months.   

In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: “This storm caused significant damage in several Vermont counties – damage that was beyond the ability of many of our towns to recover from.  That’s why we have a federal disaster recovery program, and we are pleased FEMA recognized the need for federal funding to help restore this popular recreation area as well as other infrastructure damaged in the May storm.”

Aaron Frank, Colchester Town Manager said:  “The Town of Colchester is incredibly thankful to our federal partners, including Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders and Representative Welch, for providing funding to reconstruct the Causeway to its condition prior to the May 4-5, 2018 high water and severe windstorm.  We are also thankful for the State of Vermont, for providing interim, emergency repairs and providing a 17.5 percent match of the restoration and mitigation funding, leaving the Town with 7.5 percent of the financial responsibility.  Colchester is proud to be the steward of one of the finest sections of bike path in the world.”