December 2018

Apparently a troll has taken up residence at the LaPlatte Crossing footbridge. As far as we know he is friendly, but thanks to Gretta White for making this fabulous warning sign.

A Bridge Across the LaPlatte

LaPlatte Crossing opening celebration
Sunday, November 18, 2018
  • Live Music with -> Kolonien
  • Hot cider and treats.
  • Be the first to cross . . .   (skipping, dancing, under 5, over 80, walking backward, wearing blue . . .  you decide!)

(Read updates on bridge reconstruction below)
    The LaPlatte River meanders through Shelburne on its way to Lake Champlain and many people enjoy the forest and floodplain along its banks. There are some wonderful trails along both sides of the river, but the river creates a barrier. On a cold winter day one might walk over the ice or on a hot summer day wade through the low water to cool off the feet.  But for the most of the year, crossing the river was not an option. That is, until the winter of 2011 when nature had a hand and a large Ash tree fell across the river, creating a perfect natural bridge.
   Joplin James, a teacher at Shelburne Community School, lives on the east side of the LaPlatte. He had always wanted to be able to walk to school, so when he discovered the tree bridge, he was delighted. SCS has Walk-to-School Wednesdays, but for children on that side of the river, crossing the narrow bridge on Falls Road is frightening and unpleasant. But now with this wonderful log spanning the river, there was a natural connection. Some parents got together to put a railing along the log bridge and from then on, kids in the neighborhood met early each Wednesday morning to walk to school. They decided that no matter what, rain, or snow, cold or heat, they would walk every week. And so they did.
   But nature gives and nature takes away. The tree was a magnificent bridge for a year and a half, until May 2013 when the flood waters rose up and swept the bridge downstream. It was a sad day for the walkers; with only three weeks of school left, there was no way to forge the river. Not to be dissuaded, Joplin rigged up a raft to shuttle across the river.  It was a solution for the remainder of the school year, but clearly only a temporary fix.
    A new bridge was needed that could survive the spring floods and the winter ice flow and it would have to be safe for children and have a low-impact on the environment.  There were two strong trees on opposite banks of the river; a  suspension bridge would be a safe and simple solution.
  By late August the cables were hung, and a crew of families got together to help carry materials down to the river. Kids carried boards in backpacks, parents chugged along with the wheelbarrow. Nearly twenty people pitched in to help attach the deck to the cables, and the ropes for the railing.
    As word got out about the bridge it began to get more use, and each Wednesday children gathered for the walk to school. Some families from Gardenside joined in from their side of the woods, and another group came from Rivercrest. Sometime there were 15-20 children, some moms and dads and dogs, other SCS teachers and SCS Principal Patti Beaumont joined the eager walkers.
     You would expect children to be daunted by the dark cold mornings of winter, and some of course were, but every Wednesday, there were always some children to join Joplin on his walk, no matter how cold. During the January thaw, the river rose up to just a few inches from the deck of the bridge but the bridge held firm.
     Neighbors from Rivercrest and Gardenside realized they could now get to the Shelburne Market  without getting in the car and they were grateful to have this simple solution to crossing the river. 
     Unfortunately, in the enthusiasm for creating this walking link, there was a serious oversight, which was that the river flows  through town property and there was no permit issued for the bridge construction. Although the Shelburne Select Board supported the idea of a bridge to connect the LaPlatte Nature trails, they required that the bridge be removed and a proper permit application be submitted to the Development Review Board with a bridge design from a certified engineer.

Make a tax deductible contribution at LaPlatte Crossing funding
or LaPlatte crossing via PayPal

October 2018

    Despite the inclement weather last weekend, an indefatigable team (Rocco, Dave, and Charlie) managed a solution to the needle beam attachment problem and gather the necessary hardware/tools to make the correction.  If we can get a good crew this weekend to finish this task and then get the deck and railing attached, we might be back on track for a grand opening the following weekend. Any suggestions about how to celebrate?
    Let us know if you can help out this weekend or just stop by and see how things are progressing.

September 2018

 Things are coming together to get the footbridge up. We have installed the eight ground anchors, and the special steel connectors have just been made for us (see the photo with Maja Halliburton, who helped measure with the laser transit.) 
  This weekend we need to carry the 14 pieces (600 lbs. all together) down to the bridge site and attach them to the ground anchors. 
   Next week the towers and cables will be delivered and we'll need a crew to get those materials to the river and then hoist and secure the four 20' towers into their vertical position. This will be an exciting challenge!
  Please let us know if you're available this weekend or next to help out with these tasks. Even a half hour will help!

That's the good news, but as so often happens with projects like this, there have been some unexpected expenses, so we're going to need to do some additional fund raising.
Thanks to all of those who made a contribution to the project previously. If you haven't had a chance to do so, you can support the completion at -->
LaPlatte Crossing funding (Local Motion 501c3) or    PayPal

June 2018

   We're ready to get started on the footbridge and need some helpers (weather permitting) to install the ground anchors that will support the cables and towers.  We decided on this method instead of concrete footers to avoid the material and effort involved in setting concrete. We'll need two 210 cm (7 ft) anchors on each side to support the towers and two 160cm (5.25 ft) anchors to support the cables (8 anchor screws total), see photo below. We have to rent a special handheld driver from Arkansas, which should arrive next week.
  I've never done anything like this, but the guy in Arkansas thinks we can handle it and the instructional video makes it look manageable; if you have any experience with this kind of installation we would so appreciate your assistance.
   First we'll need to carry in the materials and equipment from behind the Shelburne market (and get them across the river). We're counting on the nature of the floodplain along the river that we won't hit any large obstructions, but who knows what surprises may await. Total cost for materials and equipment rental $2737 + $1000 security deposit.
      We'll also need to rent or borrow a 220 Volt generator and a large hammer drill to predrill the holes. 
We hope to hear from you if you can help or support this effort in any form, or if you have questions, suggestions, expertise to share. If you're not available, there will be lots more to do later in the summer so let us know if you can help out at another time.

July 2017

  It has been an unexpectedly long process for getting the footbridge reconstructed across the LaPlatte river, but we have good news. Scott Silverstein, from PERCH engineering, has completed the design and specifications for the footbridge as required by the Shelburne DRB (see concept plan below). We're waiting for a design review by the town consulting engineer and a wetlands permit review from the VT Agency of Natural Resources. We hope to get all these details covered this summer so we can move forward building the permanent bridge as soon as possible.

 How you can help: 

This bridge is being built to connect our community, and it will take a community effort to make it happen. (Please forward this email to anyone who might be interested!) 

a) Fund raising - we need to pay PERCH Engineering for the design, and then raise money for the materials and building costs, cables, ground anchors, deck materials, and miscellaneous expenses.  We had some money remaining from previous contributions, but  now we need to pay a balance of $580 for Scott's work, and then raise approximately $5000 for the materials for bridge construction.
 Make a tax deductible contribution at LaPlatte Crossing funding
or -> LaPlatte crossing via PayPal.
or send to  LaPlatte Crossing
                   338 Thompson Rd,
                   Shelburne VT 05482

b) Building - we'll need a posse of volunteers to transport materials and equipment to the bridge site and build the  bridge. If you would like to be involved in this effort when the time comes, let me know! I'll keep you updated about timing as the project develops.
c) It would be really helpful to have volunteers with interest and skill in these essential tasks:
    - Fund raising
    - Sourcing, pricing, purchasing, materials: cables, ground anchors, attachment hardware, etc.

  We're looking forward to a safe and reliable connection across the river for walkers, bikers, and kids going to school, connecting the east and west sections of the LaPlatte Nature trails. 

More information at


February 2017

   The primitive log bridge (#6) that we cobbled together last April, wasn't expected to last long. It wasn't high enough off the river and well below flood stage. But amazingly, we have had no significant rain since last spring, and it has allowed our crossing all summer, fall and through this winter. Alas, this February thaw has let the ice loose which pushed the bridge off it's supports and down the river, ironically on the same day as an article appeared in the Shelburne News about the plans to construct a more permanent structure. 
   Sad that we won't be able to get across the river without getting our feet wet, but it provides the motivation to get the new bridge up.  Our Engineer Scott Silverstein has surveyed the site and is working on a concept plan. Hopefully we can work toward construction this summer.