School is back in session. Labor Day has come and gone. 2018 will be here before we know it.
As I mentioned in my last update, I’d like to take the time this Fall to share with you what I’ve learned about the construction work planned for Middlebury’s Rail & Bridge Project in 2018 and the impact it will have on our downtown life.
The goal of the workplan in 2018, and again in 2019, is to complete all the preparation work necessary so that replacing our temporary bridges in 2020, and the road closures downtown that will accompany that, can get done as quickly as possible.
We can break 2018 down into two major activities.
One, construction of new drainage infrastructure. Its purpose is to improve stormwater drainage along the rail corridor and in the Court Square-Main Street-Merchants Row-Village Green area. Areas of impact = Printer’s Alley, Riverfront Park in Marble Works, and Triangle Park.
Two, construction of a temporary access road from the south (Otter Creek) end of Water Street along the rail line and, eventually, into the Battell parking lot. Its purpose is to allow construction vehicle access to the rail corridor in 2018 and 2019 and to provide access to the Battell parking lot for residents, workers, and delivery vehicles during the major work of Summer 2020. Areas of impact: Water Street and South Pleasant Street residents overlooking the rail line.
So much of our focus this past year has been on minimizing the project’s impact on our downtown business community. I am working with the VTrans project team to ensure that equal focus is given in the months ahead to minimizing the project’s impact on those who live in the Water Street and South Pleasant Street neighborhoods, in the Battell Block, and in the Seymour Street/Marble Works neighborhood.
There will be tree cutting in advance of both projects and I’ll share info on the what and where when I have that in hand.
Work is expected to get underway in April and continue through the remainder of the calendar year. Hours of operation = 7 AM – 5 PM, Monday – Friday.
Printer’s Alley To Remain Open to Pedestrians
I want to stress two key points about 2018.
First, there will be none of the street-level disruption we saw this summer. No road closures, no lane closures, no sidewalk closures. There will be construction activity and it will be noticeable. But nothing I’ve seen on the drawing board suggests that we’ll experience anything like the “four years of total disruption downtown” scenario that some have raised as a concern. Getting around downtown should not be a problem next year.
Second, except for short intervals when blasting is taking place or construction equipment is being moved, Printer’s Alley will remain open to pedestrians throughout the year. My store owner friends in the Marble Works made it clear to me how important pedestrian traffic is to their business. So this is a priority for VTrans, VHB, and Kubricky.
Next Up: I’ll go into detail on the new drainage infrastructure in my next update.
That’s all for today. See you downtown.
Please keep your comments and questions coming. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to cover it in my next update.