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Temporary Bridges Update #40

Final Week of Construction; A Look Ahead at a Finished Merchants Row

Wrapping up Main Street. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Main Street reopened to traffic on Friday afternoon (see photo), in time for the evening commute and a day earlier than planned. First person over the new roadway was Pat Shaw, at the wheel of Middlebury Fire Department’s aerial fire truck.

A few folks have expressed concern about how water will shed off the bridge and down the slope to the sidewalk in front of the National Bank of Middlebury. I’m told that the six-inch curb reveal has been engineered to channel rainwater down the roadway to the stormwater drain near the crosswalk on Main Street. I’ll work with the Department of Public Works to keep an eye on how things go. DPW will tackle the business of snow removal once we get to winter.

Kubricky will be asphalting the sidewalk between the Post Office and the footbridge during the week.

Getting Ready for the New Merchants Row. When it reopened on Friday, Main Street didn’t look a whole lot different. That won’t be the case on Merchants Row. Here are some key things to know:

  • To allow traffic to enter and exit the Battell Block parking lot, the temporary bridge has been set to the far left as you’re looking up Merchants Row.

  • Except for traffic exiting the Battell Block parking lot, Merchants Row will be one-way up the hill for through traffic.

  • The right-hand lane of the temporary bridge (as you’re looking up from Main Street) will be set aside for pedestrians only.

During the week, I’ll be going into detail on the changes you’ll find on Merchants Row once it reopens this coming Saturday, August 12. For today, let’s review how the new configuration of Merchants Row will solve some long-standing safety issues on that roadway.

First, the ACTR downtown transit hub has been relocated and will not return to Merchants Row. No one, including our friends at ACTR, thought that stacking buses in the westbound travel lane on Merchants Row was a good situation. The Selectboard has approved a relocation of ACTR to Academy Street (the one-block street that connects College Street and Route 30) from its current temporary home on South Pleasant Street. That move is expected to take place this Fall.

Second, far less traffic will be making the dangerous left-hand turn from Merchants Row onto Main Street. Except for traffic exiting the Battell parking lot, which will not have room to make the right-hand turn onto the bridge, Merchants Row will be one-way up the hill toward Court Square and South Pleasant Street. You will no longer be able to turn down Merchants Row from Court Square or South Pleasant Street.

What’s on Tap Monday. It’s all about finishing Merchants Row. On Monday Kubricky will set the deck panels on the temporary bridge, finish backfilling and grading the western section of the roadway, and begin backfilling the upper section of the roadway. Merchants Row will remain closed to through traffic until Saturday. The lower and upper Merchants Row sidewalks are open. To get across the rail line, you need to walk through the Village Green.

Why I Lived at the P.O. The Middlebury Post Office was on the front lines of this construction project, both in June and then during the construction of the temporary bridge on Main Street. I spent a lot of time in this classic WPA building during this summer and want to thank Postmaster Joe Laramie and his great staff for their patience, good humor, and frontline service to the community. George, Cheyenne, Kayla, Cindy, Erica, Mandy – these are some of the friendliest folks you will meet at any Post Office in the country.

Book of the Week Club. Kubricky didn’t work this weekend so I had an opportunity to catch up first with the lawn and then with some reading. For the past few months, I’ve been working my way through P.D. James’s mystery novels featuring the inimitable Adam Dalgleish. If you’re a fan of mystery novels and haven’t read this series, this is about as good as it gets. P.D. sets her mysteries in conventional settings (e.g., the country manor, the fens of East Anglia) but the ingenuity of her plots, her interest in contemporary social issues, and her novelist’s eye for detail are anything but conventional. You can order any of the 14 books in the Dalgleish series (the first one, written in 1962, is Cover Her Face) in-store or online at the Vermont Book Shop. (My wife, who reads at least one mystery a week, highly recommends Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.)

Downtown Information Booth Lineup for Monday. Staffing the Middlebury Rail & Bridge Project information booth in Cannon Park on Monday are Anne Urban (10-12), Ann LaFiandra (12-2), and Janet Winkler (2-4). Stop by and say hello to our volunteers, who will be showcasing all the great info on our town available at the booth.

That’s all for today. See you downtown.

Please keep your comments and questions coming. Send me an email at and I’ll try to cover it in my next update.

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