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2018 Update #3

Alligator Cracking and the RR Detour Map

Last week an observant reader got in touch to ask about deteriorating pavement on the Main Street temporary bridge. “Why is the surface of the temporary bridge on Main Street showing cracks already? I have concerns that this represents less-than-prudent planning if it's in trouble after only 6 months.”

The answer, as I learned when I brought this up during our weekly project team meeting in Montpelier last Wednesday, is that the steel panels that make up the temporary bridge flex under the weight of passing vehicles, causing faster breakdown of the pavement, including the “alligator cracking” that’s visible in the photo. The high volume of tanker trucks and other heavy vehicles traveling on Main Street, which of course is also State Route 30, as well as the grade of the temporary bridge are contributing factors.

All of which is to say that the Agency of Transportation anticipated the need for maintenance and plans to repave the Main Street bridge deck and tighten the bolts this summer. This would involve either closing Main Street bridge altogether for one day or alternating lanes for 2-3 days. We’ll work out the best timing for minimal impact downtown and I’ll keep you posted. Merchants Row bridge is not showing the same signs of wear as it sees far less truck traffic, but it, too, will be monitored for needed maintenance.

The Rail Detour

Last week I discussed the State’s investment in statewide rail infrastructure in order to detour Vermont Rail around Middlebury for 10 weeks in Summer 2020. A reader suggested that a visual showing the detour route might be helpful “to appreciate the complexity of diverting trains from one owner’s track to another owner’s track” and so I’m including here a reproduction of a slide from VTrans’s January presentation to the House and Senate Transportation Committees that provides a visual overview of the 128-mile detour.

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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