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Temporary Bridges Update #49

What We Think About the Temporary Bridges Project

The results are in. Some 250 members of our community completed the follow-up survey on this summer’s temporary bridges construction project. All this week I’ll be reporting on what you said.

Let’s go right to what I think is a significant takeaway from the survey. About 80% of those who responded told us that during construction they were downtown either daily or 2-3 times a week. These folks saw up close what eight weeks of a major construction project on Main Street and Merchants Row looks like. And 75% of them said they were “very satisfied” with how the project was managed.

That’s not to say that there weren’t areas for improvement, like signage. Or that there aren’t some misgivings about the temporary bridges or concerns for the downtown with the larger project about to get underway. We’ll get into that during the week. But it does say something about the way this project is being designed, built, and managed. And about the willingness of the community to judge it not on what we fear will happen but on what actually does happen.

So let’s look at the data, question by question.

The first question was designed to create a general profile of who took the survey. Were they in a position to evaluate this summer’s construction? As you can see, 74% of those responding live in Middlebury, 64% work in Middlebury, 72% regularly drive through downtown Middlebury, and 62% regularly shop and conduct business in town.

Is there a bias in the survey? In the sense that the survey was sent to citizens with an active interest in what’s happening in our town, yes. The survey was sent to about 800 individuals who signed up to receive the town’s email alerts. It was also distributed to the entire College community.

Question 2 shows that nearly 80% of those responding to the survey were downtown either daily during this summer’s construction or 2-3 times a week.

Here we see the impact of the disruption downtown, with about a third of respondents telling us that they went downtown less frequently than usual to avoid the construction. Parking clearly had a lot to do with that. On the other hand, the majority said that they continued to come downtown when they needed to. “Life goes on, we’ll work around it.” This is a sentiment I heard many times downtown during the summer.

Finally, one out of every 10 respondents said they came downtown more often to show their support of the downtown community. That’s the attitude I heard expressed so many times at last year’s meetings of the Neighbors Together community action group.

Tomorrow we’ll look at how people got their information on the project this summer.

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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