Work Starts On Expanded Parking At Lake Willoughby

WESTMORE, Vt. (AP) — Construction is underway to create more parking at Lake Willoughby in the Northeast Kingdom to prevent visitors from parking on the side of the road and traffic bottlenecks, state officials said.

Work crews are forming an overflow parking lot off Route 5A that has space for about 80 cars, WCAX-TV reported.

The next phases including parking area improvements, Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible boat ramp access and boardwalk to the West Cove beach, and bathroom facilities will start in the spring and summer of 2022, the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation said in a release last week.

“These improvements are in response to significant increases in visitation and use and are intended to improve safety, environmental quality, and visitor enjoyment at Willoughby State Forest,” the department said.

Westmore Selectboard Chair Pete Hyslop said it’s a huge safety issue to have cars parked on both sides of the road, so he is glad that construction has started. The project has faced pushback and permitting delays, but the state made modifications to address some of those concerns, said Louis Bushey with the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

“There’s still some angst about the additional parking and construction, but I think (in the) long-run, we’ll clean up that roadside stuff so it does not look like the chaotic mess of vehicles that it does on the warm, hot summer days,” he said.