CASTLETON — The D&H rail trail only looks like its been blacktopped.
Step on the trail, which runs from Castleton to Poultney, and it becomes evident the new surface is actually just crushed stone.
Crews employed by the Vermont Agency of Transportation cleared brush away earlier this year ahead of the resurfacing project, and this week the trail was closed while the new surface was put down. The project also includes creating a more defined trailhead in Poultney.
"That rail trail, to my knowledge, has never had an actual surface put on," said Jon Kaplan, who runs the Vermont Agency of Transportation's bicycle and pedestrian program. "In some places, it was literally just a track worn through the grass. ... It definitely didn't meet any of our standards for rail trails, what we had for a surface."
Kaplan said the new surface will increase the path's accessibility.
"It should be fairly firm after they're done," he said. "What I've seen on other rail trails that have the same surface is it gets better after the project is done. Over time, it gets even better."
Some in town don't like the look of it.
"From an aesthetic point of view, it's appalling and I don't understand it," said John Rehlen, Castleton resident and business owner. "The other thing I don't understand is, I was not aware of any public input — maybe it's something I missed."
Kaplan said there were not any specific meetings on the resurfacing because the design for trails was well established.
"It's not like we were looking at different alignments or changing things," he said. "We did work pretty closely with the town of Poultney on the changes there."
Shelly Lutz, an avid cyclist who occasionally uses the trail, said the new surface should be a significant improvement once it's finished.
"Once it packs in, it'll be great," she said. "The end result will be a very good product. It'll be a lot smoother. ... The last time I was out there it was pretty overgrown. It was starting to encroach. ... Whenever you resurface like that, the new is never what you want at first, but the finished product comes in where you want it."