The Mountain Times

°F Sun, April 20, 2014

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CCC road re-opens to Black Swamp Lot

SHREWSBURY-There is good news for hikers with a section of the historic CCC Road between Plymouth and North Shrewsbury having been repaired.

The repairs have made the road passable to both the Stone Chimney and the Black Swamp Road parking areas, which serve as trailheads for hikes to 3,737-foot Shrewsbury Peak.

Beyond the Black Swamp lot, however, there is a cement barricade as the last two miles down to Route 100 have not yet been rebuilt and are unsafe (and impossible) for vehicular travel. This section received major damage from Tropical Storm Irene but will be repaired so people can use the entire CCC Road next year.

The Gecha Brothers completed the repairs in late August. They repaired culverts and washouts, dug ditches, and put down a gravel bed as needed to the Black Swamp Road. In addition, they repaired a section of an old road off the Plymouth Road that is used for hikers and cross-country skiers, again good news for outdoors recreation this fall and winter.

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation was responsible for getting bids to fix these areas and is currently revisiting the cost to fix the last section in Plymouth which sustained serious damage and requires a major fix. They sent a memo to Shrewsbury residents last May noting that they understood "the importance of the CCC Road" and their intention to reopen the road as soon as possible, stating it would be done under two different contracts.

 

3--ccc ---another -view -of -cribbing -that -was -destroyed -by -Irene -KL-IMG_2287

 

The CCC Road is used as a seasonal shortcut for many people who reside in surrounding towns as well as by travelers who get directions over the Internet. Since Internet maps have not been updated, they frequently find themselves inconvenienced by the road's closure. 

The Forests and Parks department worked with both FEMA and the engineering firm of Dubois and King and had "to reconcile a considerable difference in estimated costs for repair of the most damaged sections of the CCC Road between the first switchback after the Black Swamp Road to Route 100 in Plymouth," according to the May 7 letter, which explains the delay for that section. 

Having driven this section for over 35 years and having walked up it from the Route 100 entrance, where a sign notes only foot traffic is permissible now; it is understandable how difficult this section will be to repair. It has a steep hill and cliff-like drop-off where a 1934 "cribbing" of railroad ties - that secured the roadbed to the mountainside - was torn apart from cascading waters. Repairing this will be a significant engineering task with plans calling for replacing the cribbing with concrete blocks or cement. It will also be necessary to replace/repair all of the many culverts that were destroyed as well as backfill washed-out areas.

The funding issue has come up again since the bids recently came in significantly higher than the FEMA estimate, but hopes are to resolve the issue and to rebuild this section so people can look forward to enjoying the entire road in 2013.
In the meantime, those with a penchant for hiking have two trailheads with ample parking areas that are now accessible. The first is at the Stone Chimney and provides a more challenging route to the peak with some steep sections at the top.
The Black Swamp Lot is further east. Its route starts along the old road, which makes for a colorful mile-long gentle hike up to a scenic wooden bridge - easily doable for those with babies in backpacks or dogs needing a walk. From there the hike goes steadily uphill but is moderate and doable for most ages. It rewards with nice vistas as does the view from the peak itself.
A final reminder: Once snow flies, which can occur early in this high-elevation mountainous area, the CCC Road will be marked "closed" and gated once again. It will not be plowed beyond the last year-round residence where a yellow sign at the end of that driveway warns "Road not maintained in winter." Don't attempt it in a vehicle unless you want to risk getting stuck and a huge bill to get out and/or spend the night in the woods!