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Temporary Bridges Update #44

Merchants Row Reopens Today; What You Need To Know

Kubricky expects to reopen Merchants Row to motorists and pedestrians late Friday afternoon, a day earlier than planned. This week I’ve been reviewing the changes that the temporary bridge has brought to Merchants Row. We’ll see a significant improvement in pedestrian and traffic safety but the new patterns will take a little getting used to so let me summarize again what you’ll find. I’ve gone into some detail below. It’s worth reading because it will answer many of your questions. But come on down and check it out for yourself. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Merchants Row Now One Way Up the Hill. The most significant change is that Merchants Row is now one way only, up the hill toward Court Square and South Pleasant Street. (The one exception is traffic exiting the Battell Block parking lot and I’ll get to that in a minute.) Driving, you’ll turn right on Merchants Row, follow the lane markings to the left-hand side of the temporary bridge, and continue up the hill to either Court Square or South Pleasant Street at the monument. You will not be able to turn down Merchants Row from either Court Square or South Pleasant Street.

Walking Merchants Row. On Main Street a footbridge carries pedestrians across the rail line. On Merchants Row, you’ll actually walk across the temporary bridge. Here’s how it will work. If you’re walking from Main Street to Town Hall Theater, for example, you’ll walk up the sidewalk on the Battell side of the street. In front of Carol’s Hungry Mind Café, you’ll enter a cross walk that will take you to the right-hand lane of the temporary bridge. At the crosswalk, you’ll want to look right because traffic could be exiting the Battell Block parking lot. You’ll walk up the temporary bridge to a second crosswalk that will take you back to the sidewalk in front of Bourdon Insurance and on up to Town Hall Theater. While on the bridge you’ll be protected from traffic by concrete Jersey barriers on the left and by 4-foot chain-link fencing on your right. Guard rails at either end of the bridge will also separate you from traffic. You will not be able to walk up Merchants Row in front of Triangle Park. That sidewalk is gone in favor of a truck loading zone (more on that below). But you will be able to take the cross walk from The Diner to the monument and then over to the Village Green and vice-versa.

Entering and Exiting the Battell Block Parking Lot. The Battell Block parking lot will reopen on Friday to deliveries and to those who live and work there. To enter the parking lot, you’ll turn right on Main Street and follow the lane marking to the parking lot entrance, which is in the same place as before, right next to Curve Appeal. You’ll need to watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk running from Carol’s to the temporary bridge. Exiting the parking lot will be much safer than in the past when motorists had no line of sight with pedestrians. You’ll come up the incline and onto the level roadway and up to a Stop sign just before the pedestrian crosswalk. Then you’ll slowly move forward until you have a clear line of sight on traffic moving one way up the hill and you’ll then head down to Main Street, where you can turn either right or left. You will not be able to exit the parking lot and turn right and go across the temporary bridge, the turning radius is too tight.

Parking on Merchants Row. You can park in front of the Battell Block as in the past. There are now 9 parking spaces. The first spot off of Main Street is a handicapped spot. When you leave your parking space, back up and continue up the hill and over the temporary bridge. The parking alongside Triangle Park is gone, replaced with a truck loading zone. Larger delivery trucks will not be able to negotiate the narrow entryway to the Battell parking lot. On the upper stretch of Merchants Row there are 24 parking spaces on both sides of the street, including one handicapped spot in front of Bourdon Insurance.

Questions. Let me know your questions and concerns about the new setup on Merchants Row. I think it will become clear once you’ve seen it and driven it or walked it a couple of times.

Thursday Wrap-Up. As planned, J. Hutchins (Richmond VT) completed paving out Merchants Row and Lafayette Highway Specialties (Essex Junction VT) worked on installing chain-link fencing around the perimeter of Merchants Row to ensure safety for pedestrians.

What’s on Tap Friday. L&D Safety Marking (Barre VT) will be in town to line-stripe travel lanes, pedestrian crosswalks, and parking spaces. Lafayette will finish installing fencing and guard rails. Kubricky will install the Jersey barriers on the bridge to separate traffic from pedestrians. Kubricky expects to open the roadway by late afternoon.

Last Day for the Downtown Information Booth! Staffing the Middlebury Rail & Bridge Project information booth in Cannon Park on Friday are May Morris (10-12), Jonathon Connor (12-2), and the Shashok family (2-4). Our volunteers have done a terrific job directing visitors and locals alike around town during the construction. Many of our volunteers are members of the St. Stephen’s congregation, which has been a leader in advocating for our downtown community throughout this project. All of our volunteers deserve our thanks for taking the time to serve the community but I want to especially thank Nancy Malcolm and Linda Horn at St. Stephen’s for making it happen. The Better Middlebury Partnership and the Addison County Chamber of Commerce organized the effort and supplied the hut and all the great info materials.

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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