3 The previous page shows VTrans and VAST atop new bridge 16L over US RT. 2B in Danville. The bridge was paid for and installed by VTrans and will facilitate the completion of the LVRT.
4 LVRT & VAST By-Laws The Vast By-Laws, in part, Charge the Vast Board of Directors with Reaching the Following Goals: Develop and maintain a statewide network of snowmobile trails; Actively seek and support the preservation and protection of our natural environment; Promote the development of recreational areas for the use of snowmobiles within the state;
5 Lamoille Valley Rail Trail Committee In 1997 the VAST Board of Directors created the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail Committee (LVRTC). Its charge, develop a plan to convert the Lamoille Valley Railroad (LVRR) into a four-season recreation trail, where snowmobiling and other recreation activities would be allowed. The Plan was to respond to a “Request for Proposal,” by the VT Agency of Transportation (VTrans), for the best and highest ranked future use of the LVRR. The LVRTC responded and their proposal was selected as the best future use of the LVRR, and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) was born.
6 Vermont Legislative Action The future use of the LVRR had been determined, it was then up to the VT Legislature to determine the final fate of the LVRR. In 2002 and 2003 a series of legislation was passed that: 1) Allowed VTrans to formally enter into a long-term lease with VAST to create the LVRT. 2) Authorized VTrans to terminate rail usage on the LVRR, through the Federal Surface Transportation Board (STB). STB authorized Rail Banking of the 95 mile long LVRR; STB also granted permission for use of the LVRR as a four- season recreation trail as an interim use. 3) The Legislature further granted authority to use Federal funds for the creation of the LVRT.
7 Federal High Priority Grant In 2002 then Rep. Bernie Sanders became involved with LVRT project making a promise to help obtain funding for the LVRT. Bernie saw the LVRT potential for attracting tourism dollars to Vermont; especially Agri-Tourism; the LVRT runs through rich agricultural lands in Caledonia, Lamoille, and Franklin Counties. Potential development was also recognized. On August 10, 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was enacted, and Bernie was successful in his efforts for VAST, A Grant for $4,942,571 was granted by the United States Congress for development of the LVRT. The terms of the Grant require a Sponsor match of 20%; VAST is the Sponsor.
8 Lease Agreement & Management Plan In 2006 the VAST Board of Directors authorized the signing of a Lease, between VAST and VTrans. This action enabled VAST to begin the development of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. The lease set the groundwork for the project and outlined the responsibilities of the parties. The VAST Board approved a set of working policies, under which a larger and reorganized LVRTC was created. A Management Plan was developed and has gone through several changes since its original form. It is a living, changing document, driven by the terms of the Lease between VAST and VTrans.
9 Cooperative Agreement A Cooperative Agreement (Agreement) between VTrans and VAST was developed: It outlines the duties and responsibilities for VAST and VTrans; and lays out the process needed to move the LVRT forward. The Agreement: Was authorized by the Board and was finalized the 18 th day of June 2007. Makes it clear that the Sponsor (VAST) has full responsibility for the project, as well as its maintenance. Further indicates that the State agrees to make available to the Sponsor a sum not to exceed $0 in state funds and $4,942,571 in federal-aid funds.
10 Cooperative Agreement ( Continued) Further indicates that costs incurred by the Sponsor, that exceed the totals indicated will not be eligible for state or federal participation unless those costs have been incorporated into the agreement. Further defines the responsibilities for payment of work completed if either party, prior to completion of the project, cancels the project.
11 LVRT Assessment Study The Cooperative Agreement signed, VAST was free to begin accumulating in-kind credit that will help to support our share of the project. To match the Grant of $4,942,571, VAST must provide $1,235,643 in matching funds and/or services; for a total project cost of no less than $6,178,214. VAST was very fortunate to have been able to enlist the services of Alan Robertson, PE of Sheffield to become the Municipal Project Manager and VAST Engineer for the LVRT. ($1 paid to Alan yields $12+ in in-kind credit). In the summer and fall of 2007, Alan completed a GPS Survey and Assessment of the entire 93-miles of the LVRT; an Assessment Analysis for the LVRT was created and has been highly used for project development.
12 Engineers of Record In the spring of 2008 the VAST Board of Directors authorized the hiring of Consulting Engineers for the LVRT project. A Request for Qualification was advertised, six firms responded. The firm of Vanasse, Hangan, Brustlin/Pioneer Environmental (VHB) was selected. VHB has offices throughout the U.S., including one in Vergennes. VHB is one of the foremost engineering firms in the U.S. for “Trail Development” and “Environmental Engineering.” They are also the premier environmental permitting specialists in Vermont and the Northeast.
13 Engineers of Record (Continued) Since contracting with them, VHB has been working tirelessly on the following: Obtaining a federal Categorical Exclusion (CE) for the LVRT; necessary to eliminate the need to conduct additional environmental studies for the project. Partnering with our legal firm Primmer, Piper, Eggleston & Cramer, and VTrans to obtain a favorable Jurisdictional Opinion, exempting the LVRT from Vermont’s Act 250 process. We have been successful and it has been ruled that there is no Act 250 jurisdiction over the LVRT. Continue working to obtain our CE, and other required permits. VHB expects to have preliminary construction plans, showing a minimum of 25% of all construction details, (25% plans) completed by winter 2009, as well as the completion of filing for the CE. It is hoped that we can move to construction in the spring of 2010.
14 Estimated Cost to Construct the LVRT The cost to construct the LVRT is currently estimated to be $6,263,000. The following is a breakdown of the LVRT project costs, Estimated Construction Costs $5,543,000 Engineering & Permitting Costs $720,000 Total $6,263,000
15 Estimated Cost to Construct the LVRT Proposed Funding: High Priority Grant$4,942,571 Current VAST In-Kind $225,000 Future VAST In-Kind $75,000 Current Pledges $100,000 Cash to Date $15,000 VTrans Wolcott Bridge $163,100 VTrans Greensboro Bridge $15,000 Projected Balance to Raise $727,329 Total $6,263,000
16 Estimated Cost to Construct the LVRT (Continued) Based on the projected cost, VAST will have to raise, at a minimum, $1,320,425. VAST anticipates that we have met nearly $600,000 toward that share, leaving a balance of $727,329 to raise. This amount can be met in various ways, Donations, In-Kind, etc. The LVRTC continues to proceed with fund raising activities. In today’s financial atmosphere it is a tough sell. We are hopeful that 2010 will bring better times, and once the public sees our efforts beginning to bear fruit (construction activities taking place) we will see a greater willingness to financially support the LVRT.
17 Estimated Cost to Construct the LVRT (Continued) Currently, the LVRT has not met all project permitting requirements. We continue to work toward a Spring of 2010 construction schedule. Once plans have been finalized, and permits have been obtained, local towns and municipalities are prepared to provide in-kind services for the trail. They would like to provide these services now, but until we have been cleared to proceed, by the Federal Highway Administration, we are unable to take advantage of their current offers.
18 LVRT Financing The following were options for financing VAST’s obligations for the LVRT: Option #1 – VAST Funding To date, the VAST Board of Directors authorized one loan in the amount of $100,000. An accounting of those funds is shown in the proposed FY2010 LVRT Budget. Option #1 would continue to allow the Board to authorize additional loans, up to $750,000, as needed to complete the LVRT. The loans would be paid back as donations to the project allowed. Currently, VAST is in a financial position to be able to loan the funds, without jeopardizing the fiscal status of the Association.
19 LVRT Financing (Continued) Option #2 – Loan From the VT Infrastructure Bank The State of Vermont through the “Economic Development Authority” operates a program called the “Vermont State Infrastructure Bank” (SIB). The SIB was funded in 1997 in part by the Federal Highway Administration (80%) and the State (20%). The VAST Board of Directors authorized the Executive Director to investigate the availability of funds from the SIB, and to submit a loan application if VAST qualified for the program. SIB and State officials have ruled that the LVRT is an eligible project and that there are available funds to cover a $750,000 loan. VAST is now in the process of completing a formal SIB loan application. If SIB approves our application, the following conditions would be placed on the loan:
20 LVRT Financing (Continued) Option #2 Continued Loan funds would be managed similar to the way a building construction loan works; funds would only be advanced after VAST has made project expenditures. When funds are drawn they would begin to accrue interest at the rate of either 2.5% or 4% per annum, depending whether or not VAST qualifies as a “Public Entity.” No payment would be due on the total loan principal amount for up to five-years after the project was complete. The SIB needs collateral to cover their loan. VAST would have to pledge property and/or cash in an amount to cover the value of a loan. An easy way would be to invest some of our excess funds in a long-term Super CD, and pledge it as collateral. VAST could earn almost as much interest as we would pay on the loan.
21 LVRT Financing (Continued) Option #2 Continued If VAST were to borrow a total of $500,000, and did not begin to repay for five years the total with interest would be around $608,327. If the amount were repaid over a period of 30-years, the term of the lease, the annual payment would be $35,161, in round terms about $1.10 for each member. The above assumes a 4% rate versus the 2.5% rate; at 2.5% the total would be $565,704. The annual payment would be $27,028, less than $1 a year per member.
22 LVRT Financing (Continued) Option #3 – Default on Project The final option would be to default on our agreement with the State. Currently, the cost of that would be the amount that is owed to VHB; approximately $137,000. In order to limit our exposure we have placed the development of the 25% plans on hold until after Annual Meeting. Once the 25% plans have been approved by the State, we would be responsible to repay all of the funds that we have drawn from the Federal Grant; at that time the total would be in the neighborhood of $650,000.
23 LVRT Financing (Continued) Option #3 – Default on Project - Continued In addition to financial costs, there would be other costs if VAST were to default on our agreement: VAST Clubs currently use more than 60% of the LVRT, and the loss of more than 54-miles of Corridor Trail would have an adverse impact on the SSTS. The closure could conceivably close several hundred miles of trail that rely on the LVRT as a connecting artery. VAST currently, has an excellent working relationship with the State of Vermont, Vermont Legislature, and Vermont’s Congressional Delegation. To default on this project would create doubt in the minds of all about the word of VAST, and jeopardize future cooperation with all, leaving VAST in an awkward position in the future.
24 LVRT Financing (Continued) The previous three proposals were presented to the VAST membership at their Annual Meeting on September 12, at the Barre Auditorium. Windsor County presented a fourth Option. Their proposal would have added $5 to the cost of a TMA (Trail Pass) for the next 5-years raising the $750,000 needed. After much discussion, the membership voted overwhelming to support Option #1 of this presentation to fund the balance of VAST’s responsibility to provide its match for the LVRT project. The above, does not eliminate the need to raise funds for the LVRT (Option #1 provides loans). There will be a great necessity to provide funding for the maintenance of this trail in future years as well.
25 Conclusions The LVRT is 93.2-miles in length; what would it cost to construct a trail of this length? FY 2010 construction project estimates, had cost ranging from around $6,000 a mile to a high of $40,000 a mile, the mean cost, approximately $8,500 per mile. Based on the above VAST would spend a minimum of $792,200 to construct a replacement trail of the equivalent length of the LVRT. A replacement trail, more than likely, would not provide the same permanence as the 30-year Lease on the LVRT. Cost to VAST for the LVRT, even if we had to borrow $750,000, would be $8,047 per mile of trail, $453 a mile less than the mean.
26 Conclusions Conclusions (Continued) The LVRT provides east to west access across Vermont, and provides links for other corridor trails that would cease to exist if it were not for the LVRT. Reliance on it will increase in the years to come. The LVRT facilitates more than 500-miles of corridor trail, the cost to replace at today’s prices, $4,500,000, minimum. Is the LVRT a good investment for VAST? It would appear that it is a very good investment.
27 LVRT Views On the Left is Morrill Brook Bridge in Walden & on the Right is Bridge #54 in Morrisville
28 LVRT Views On the Left is the Fisher Bridge in Wolcott & on the Right is West Danville
29 LVRT…. Before & After On the Left LVRT in East Hardwick before restoration and on the Right after.
30 Swanton’s 1-Mile of Completed LVRT On the Left looking West from Robin Hood Drive & on the Right Missisquoi Bridge & Rail Museum