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Temporary Bridges Update #52

What We Think About the Temporary Bridges Project

Part 4: Measuring the Personal Impact & Looking Ahead

Today, as part of our week-long review of the follow-up survey I conducted in late September on this summer’s temporary bridges construction project, we’ll focus on how those responding to the survey feel the construction impacted them personally and how this summer’s “dry run” has influenced their perception of the main project that gets underway next year.

As you can see, some 60% of survey respondents said that the personal impact of this summer’s construction project was either better than expected or somewhat better than expected. Of course, some of these folks could have just stayed home! But this response does align with other positive signs in the survey.

About a third of survey takers said that the construction project was pretty much what they expected. Maybe that reflects what we’ve gone through as a town in recent years with Cross Street Bridge, the new Town Offices, all the Vermont Gas work around town, etc.

Rounding out the response, about 10% said the summer construction was to varying degrees worse than they expected.

So how does that leave us feeling about what lies ahead?

Perception is a changeable thing. That said, it’s surely not a bad thing that half of our survey takers said they are more confident about the main project now than they were going into the summer construction.

On the other hand, an equal number of respondents told us they are either less confident about the project going forward or that their expectations remain the same. In many cases, those expectations are shadowed by their concern for the project’s impact on our community.

Let’s take a closer look. We asked for comments on this question and got quite a few. I’ve pulled out what I think are some representative observations.

I'm not confident the larger scale work will be as smooth, but more hopeful than I was prior to the temporary bridge phase.

Overall, for the complexity of the project, I thought things were handled very well. Good communication and good attitudes.

"It’s still quite hard to accept the significant changes to downtown. Not sure we're improving Midd for residents."

"I still believe that the local merchants are carrying the burden of this impact for the betterment of VTrans. It's not an equitable deal."

"I am more concerned but still think it is worthwhile. Rail service!!! Good news."

"I remain concerned about businesses that are affected, but my perception as I tried to support local businesses is that others were doing the same and frequently places felt very busy."

"I was already positive about the project, and feel like this summer's beginning phase validated that and provided good experience for making the following phases even better."

"This summer's project was just a taste of what we are in for. I believe we should leave as is. These bridges will last at least another 30+ years and by the time this is needed again, I will be long gone . . . :)"

"I am VERY concerned about the long, long time frame for disruption of travel and easy access to businesses, especially for the elderly and disabled."

"The bridges project needs to be done. Too many townspeople in Middlebury (and, perhaps, Vermonters more broadly) will be against any kind of development, any kind of change. This project is necessary."

"If there was this level of disruption for just a few weeks, I can't imagine how downtown and businesses will survive a more extensive shut down."

"While the several weeks of construction was a hassle, the new bridges are working great. If the digging and construction activity stays mostly below the street grade until the final installation, I don't anticipate much in the way of inconvenience for the majority of the project duration."

"The timelines were adhered to, the construction company was responsive, polite and helpful, and I think our town will be better for it in the long run."

For tomorrow’s update, we gave survey takers an opportunity to tell us anything they wanted to about the project. Guaranteed interesting reading.

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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