TBM Arrives; A Decision on Merchants Row; Kids Just Want To Have Fun
As planned, the Tunnel Boring Machine, looking a little like a mini NASA space shuttle and heralding the next phase in construction of the new downtown drainage system, arrived earlier this week.
First, though, let’s catch up on recent events.
Main Street Bridge Repaved
As planned, Kubricky closed both lanes of Main Street Bridge early Saturday morning in order to repave the bridge deck. (The combination of hot summer weather and heavy truck traffic had pushed the pavement up off of the bridge deck in places in the westbound lane.) The paving was completed before 8 AM and, once it cooled, the bridge was reopened by 10 AM. I can report that our downtown is pretty sleepy at 6 AM on a Saturday morning!
One Way Out
On Tuesday night, the Middlebury Selectboard voted unanimously in favor of Merchants Row remaining one-way “up the hill” after construction is completed.
Aaron Guyette, the Rail & Bridge Project’s lead engineer, presented the Selectboard with alternative plans for both two-way and one-way traffic flow, and the Selectboard heard testimony, both in person and in writing, from several business and property owners in the central downtown.
Previously, the one-way option had been endorsed by Middlebury’s Infrastructure Committee and by the Police Chief and Fire Chief.
The one-way option is expected to net about 10 more parking spaces than the two-way option, for a total of about 47 spots from the intersection with Main Street up to Court Square and South Pleasant Street.
A recommendation from the Battell Building and Town Hall Theater to widen the sidewalk on their side of Merchants Row in order to create a more pedestrian-friendly area and encourage café-style outdoor eating was positively received by the Selectboard.
The Selectboard asked VHB to return in two weeks with some refinements to the one-way plan so that such details as width of sidewalks, positioning of bump-outs, final parking spots, etc., can be finalized. I’ll keep you up to date on how the final plan takes shape.
Kids of All Ages Have Fun at Downtown Block Party
On Wednesday night, Neighbors Together and the Better Middlebury Partnership reprised last summer’s hit event, the Downtown Block Party. With a dramatic thunderstorm as its encore, the party was attended by hundreds, who seemed to be having a great time. (The photo below shows pre-party setup.)
Saratoga Sod Farms, in collaboration with Come Alive Outside’s Green Street Challenge Initiative and
Rutland-based landscape designers Carpenter and Costin, laid down sod to create green space on Main Street (we may not see that again for a while), and a wide range of games kept everyone entertained for four hours. (The sod has since been donated to the Addison County School District to use on fields.)
As last year, Kubricky donated use of its mini-excavator and I can report that our town has a number of boys and girls who know their way around construction equipment!
Thanks to all who came out to show their support for our community and to celebrate our downtown merchants, who remained open for the event.
Now let’s catch up with the construction project.
This week in Printer’s Alley the Tunnel Boring Machine arrived as planned on Monday from The Robbins Company. A Robbins technician accompanied the machine and will now join the construction team. ECI then spent the week preparing the launch pit for tunnel drilling to begin either Friday afternoon or Monday.
Among other additions, you’ll notice that a stairway built on scaffolding has been set up to manage the movement of workers in and out of the pit. Production on the 5-foot-diameter tunnel that will extend 160 feet out to Otter Creek is expected to run between 5 and 10 feet a day. I’ll have more once we get underway.
In Triangle Park, the Hayward/Baker crew is finishing up its month in town by drilling dewatering wells trackside. Maine D&B will then mobilize into Triangle Park and begin perimeter drilling of Receiving Pit 2, the southern arm of the drainage system. Next week Kubricky will create what’s known as a “stone tracking pad” in Triangle Park to limit sediment being tracked from the park onto the town’s roadways.
No activity for now at Receiving Pit 3, the northern arm of the new drainage system, located alongside the rail line in the Marble Works.
Work on the temporary access road connecting Water Street to the Battell Building parking lot will finish up next week and a gate and fencing installed to secure the area.
Members of St. Mary’s church took over watering our downtown planters and flower boxes during the hot and humid stretch of weather in August. A special thank you to Shirley Carlson; Ken and Carolyn Perine; Cooper, Isabel, and Emma Quinn; Alice, Dana, and Annie Livesay; Wendy and Al Covey; Shane Keene; Gail Smith; Martha Baldwin; Albert Banner; and Frankie Dunleavy.
The Downtown Survey
Thanks to all who have responded to the one-question survey I sent out to help us think about the future of our downtown as we make our way through three years of construction. I’ve completed reviewing the 222 responses and will report out the results next week.
That’s all for today. See you downtown.
Please keep your comments and questions coming. Send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll try to cover it in my next update.