NEAL P. GOSWAMI
BENNINGTON -- The Shires of Vermont Byway has received a grant to add signs along the corridor from Pownal to Manchester.
The byway, which stretches about 28 miles, was approved last year by the Vermont Byway Program, part of the Vermont Agency of Transportation. One year later it has received a $62,224 grant from the Federal Highway Administration in a round of grants announced on Thursday.
Jonah Spivak, a member of the volunteer Shires of Vermont Byway Committee, said grant will be used to fund signs and informational kiosks along the byway route. He said the committee expected to hear about the grant sooner, but federal budgeting delays held it up.
The grant money will allow for the installation of signs where the Shires byway intersects with others. It meets the Molly Stark Byway at Bennington's Four Corners, where Routes 7 and 9 meet. It means the Stone Valley Byway in Manchester where Routes 7A and 30 meet.
The funding will also be used to install information kiosks at several spots along the byway, according to Spivak. The kiosks will provide visitors to the area with historical and travel information, he said.
"One of the reasons we did this was to be able to go after grant sources such as this. In our very first year as a byway, to get a grant of this size, is so exciting," Spivak said.
The byway has already helped to bring the communities it runs through together, according to Spivak. All of the communities the byway passes through expressed their support for the project before it was approved by the state.
The byway has already shown up on national travel Web sites, helping to drive tourists and business to the area, he said.
"I've been surprised by how much power the byway has already," he said. "This is kind of national-level marketing that you just can't pay for."
A total of nine projects, including some covered bridge work, received funding as part of the $3.1 million announced for Vermont on Thursday. Vermont's congressional delegation -- Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch -- said the funding will help boost Vermont's local economies.
"Vermont fared very well in this very competitive round of funding," they said in a joint statement. "These grants will make possible important transportation projects that will put people to work, attract new investments, make our communities more livable, and spur new economic activity in Vermont."