The Mad River Valley Recreation District (MRVRD) along with its partners has been busy working on the sub-projects funded by the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) Grant. The grant was signed on August 11, 2023, after more than a year of changes and clarifications back and forth with the state. Since the award notification in March 2022, work has been ongoing on various sub-projects. The project will connect Waitsfield and Irasville Village to The Valley's recreation trails via a bridge over the Mill Brook from the Localfolk Smokehouse building at the corner of Routes 17 and 100. It also creates a parking for the recreation hub, information for visitors and a welcome center. Here are some recent updates on the various components of the project.
The Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce moved to the welcome center in the late fall of 2022. Major enhancements, like signage, new furniture, lighting, and computer networks have been installed as well as maps and other graphics. Finishing touches will take place including new seasonal photography and software that will enable people to see recreational offerings by season and ability level as well as local attractions to develop an itinerary specific to their needs. For instance, a local might want to utilize this if friends with young children were visiting and suggestions for an easy hike are needed or if they don't mountain bike but want to suggest a moderate ride to a house guest. This currently happens at the chamber office where they are recruiting volunteers to cover two-hour shifts Monday through Friday.
FIDDLERS GREEN EXTENSION, MAD RIVER PATH ENHANCEMENTS
Mad River Path is responsible for connecting the welcome center to downtown. The Mad River Path proposed route will cross Route 100 across from Mad River Valley Real Estate, follow Dugway Road to Butcher House Drive, rejoining the current path along the river that starts behind the Waitsfield Wash Co. Just after turning west and away from the river there is an intersection with one arm heading to Mehuron’s, another arm to Mad Meadows, and the main stem of the trail up to Irasville Common. After crossing Route 100 at Irasville Common (proposed route) the path will rejoin the Hosford Heart of the Valley Trail.
“Thank you to the many community-minded landowners who have helped to align the path by giving permissions to cross their properties!” said Misha Golfman, path association executive director. “To date we have paved a section of the path in front of Brother’s Building, opened the new section between Butcher House drive and Fiddlers Green, including wayfinding signage,” continued Golfman.
Upcoming work includes path improvements at Irasville Common and having GMVS student volunteers build a dog fence along Shupe/Capels property line. Organizers are in the process of preparing two applications with the town of Waitsfield and the state for the two Route 100 crossings. A local zoning application for multiple wayfinding signs and a wooden ramp at Irasville Common has been approved.
BRIDGE, PARKING, RIPARIAN BUFFER
The biggest expense in this project is the bike/pedestrian bridge over the Mill Brook which will link the welcome center to the Seriously Sharp Way trail and then on to Revolution, Evolution, and other trails leading to Sugarbush and beyond. Bob Kogut, president of Mad River Riders, is spearheading this effort with the assistance of engineering firms and other experts. State and local permits are in place for the bridge, parking area, and restoration of the riparian buffer along the brook.
“We’re now finalizing the construction plan, quotations, and short-term financing for the bridge. We will place the order soon for the 87-foot bowstring truss steel structure. Site preparation including screw pile foundations will begin around June of 2024. The bridge will be delivered in two pieces that will be bolted together on site. A crane will lift the bridge into position and a small team will secure it to its foundation. An 87-foot-long curving ramp will be constructed on site and connected to the bridge. The finished assembly will be ADA compliant,” said Kogut. Extra expense and effort were expended to design the bridge, foundation, and ramp to have minimal impact on water flow during flood events. In fact, an engineering analysis concluded that it would have zero effect on water levels during 1%-occurrence flood events. That work led to the state issuing a stream alteration permit for this project. In the end, following riparian buffer work, the bridge and ramp will rust to a natural color and will be entirely enveloped within the trees.
An engineering design for the parking area is currently underway. A combination of techniques including grading, check dams, and buffer plantings will be used to reduce water channeling, improve sheet flow, and therefore trap sediment from runoff before it reaches the Mill Brook. This work will improve the health of the watershed over current conditions and add parking spaces to accommodate new trailhead visitors.
Following the completion of the bridge and parking work, the Friends of the Mad River will lead the effort to restore and expand the riparian buffer. Approximately 0.7 acres of native plants and trees will be planted which will further improve the health of the brook and watershed. This work is expected to be completed during the fall of 2024.
There is definitely a sequence to some of the VOREC components -- updates will be posted at www.mrvrd.org. A big part of the VOREC grant is Conservation Recreation Visioning (CRV) which will be addressed separately. For a recap of the first CRV Community Forum go to https://www.mrvrd.org/about-crv. With questions or comments please email