On Wednesday morning, armed with photographs of the project, I met with students at the (aptly named) Bridge School, where the study of bridges has formed part of the curriculum this Fall. The kids and their teachers—Amanda Warren, Nikki Juvan, and Jen Grilly—were keenly interested in learning more about the construction in their downtown and asked some great questions.
Among other topics, we covered how the engineers have approached solving the problem of replacing two bridges downtown, how much the project will cost, what else you could do with that money (buy Google), and whether I know their parents.
My favorite question was asked when I showed the students a picture of me standing next to the Tunnel Boring Machine.
“Did you take that picture today?”
“No, I took it last month.”
“Oh, because you’re wearing the same clothes you have on today.”
Time to diversify the wardrobe.
You can read more about Bridge School and its innovative approach to holistic learning here. A pre-K program starts up soon.
Your Weekly Construction Update
ECI spent the week reconfiguring the Launch Pit in preparation for sending the Tunnel Boring Machine on its third and final voyage of the season. You’ll remember that this third tunnel will connect to Receiving Pit 3, which sits alongside the rail line in the Marble Works.
Drilling is expected to start on Friday of this week and take approximately two weeks. As I mentioned last week, bedrock turns to a mix of rock and clay somewhere between 80 and 100 feet in and that will mean slow going in the last stretch of this 139-foot-long run.
Kubricky completed its excavation of Receiving Pit 3 this week, working steadily down through 22 feet of water-soaked clay. One benefit of the work is that it gave the team a clear view of the type of material in which they will have to work when it comes to excavating that section of the rail corridor and setting utility conduits underneath the rail line.
Also next week, ECI expects to begin installing the carrier pipe that will sit within the steel casing and carry stormwater in Drive 1, which runs from the Launch Pit to the Outfall in Riverfront Park. I’ll have more info and photos of that operation as it gets underway.
Merchants Row To Close for Utility Work
When the tunnel that will replace our two downtown bridges is constructed during Summer 2020, a large crane will sit on the Town Hall Theater side of the Merchants Row Bridge to set the concrete sections of that tunnel in place.
For the crane to operate freely and safely, the overhead utility wire that crosses Merchants Row at Bourdon Insurance and that carries electric and telecom service to St. Stephen’s needs to be removed and placed underground.
The first step in that process is expected to take place next week, with Kubricky excavating an eight-foot-deep trench across Merchants Row, placing a conduit in the trench, encasing that conduit in concrete, and then backfilling the trench with stone before repaving it. (The overhead wires will be pulled through at a later date.)
This work will require Merchants Row to be closed to through traffic for two days. I’ll send an alert when I can confirm the date.
Parking in the lower section of Merchants Row (in front of the Battell Block) and access to the Battell Block parking lot will not be affected but there will be no through traffic on Merchants Row during the two days of construction.
I will work with VTrans and Kubricky to coordinate this road closure with the repaving of the Main Street temporary bridge (see following).
Paving Fix on Main Street Bridge Redux
Monday’s steady rain and the inevitable scheduling challenges that accompany a weather-related delay meant that the repaving of a section of the Main Street temporary bridge did not take place as planned this week. It’s now expected that Kubricky will take a few hours next week to fix the humped pavement that’s developed as you drive across the temporary bridge headed west.
One lane at a time will be closed during the repair work, which will likely get underway early morning and last much of the day. There should be no impact on parking but those who travel the Main Street corridor downtown, particularly during the morning rush hour, should expect some delay; the Cross Street and Pulp Mill bridges may serve as good alternative routes.
When I know a specific day for the repaving, I’ll send out an alert.
A Final Farewell
Wednesday night’s hard frost (did it really snow here in the valley on October 17?) put an end to the colorful flowers downtown cared for by a dedicated group of volunteers and designed as an offset to the sights and sounds of construction.
Before we close the door on the season, though, we owe one more thank you, this one to May Morris for providing the tubs filled with yellow petunias and the planters on the chain link fence in the area adjacent to the Main Street temporary bridge and St. Stephens. Those planters were watered throughout the summer by May, Sandy Ketcham, Bill Pierce, Holly Stabler, and Bob Ruggiero.
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.