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2018 Update #57

TBM Heads Home, Winter Sets In, Homemade Lasagna

When the last construction vehicle rolls out of Middlebury and the downtown rail and bridge project takes its place in the long line of construction projects that have built our town, one of the more interesting aspects of the work will have been the three months of underground tunneling that took place right in the heart of town.

What began in rainy 78 degree weather on Wednesday, August 22, ended Tuesday night in significantly colder conditions when the Tunnel Boring Machine broke through into Receiving Pit 3, the northern arm of the new downtown drainage system.

In the course of those 12 weeks, the TBM drilled its way through 442 feet of bedrock, mixed materials (soil and rock), and a challenging final stretch of “gumbo clay,” completing the job one month ahead of schedule.

On Thursday, the TBM, looking a wee bit bedraggled, was lifted by crane out of Pit 3 and onto a flatbed truck. It will now be given a good cleaning at ECI’s facility before being packed up to head home to the Robbins facility in Ohio.

The photos below show the TBM “before and after.”

Winter Work Commences

Several tasks still lie ahead before this year’s work on the drainage system can come to a close: carrier pipes installed within the steel casing in two of the three tunnels, the Launch Pit cleaned out and prepared for the manhole structure that will connect the stormwater carrier pipes, the three open pits backfilled. I’ll report on all of these events in the weeks ahead.

Over in Riverfront Park, this week Kubricky set the concrete footing for the headwall that will surround and support the carrier pipe as it emerges from the slope below the National Bank’s parking lot. After the concrete cures for a few days, Kubricky will install the headwall itself, bringing work in Riverfront Park to a close in early December.

Lunch Break

As the weather turned cold on Tuesday, the National Bank of Middlebury opened its community room to serve a hot lunch to the construction crew. I wasn’t able to attend, but word on the street (or, more aptly, in the pit) was that Stacey Brown’s homemade lasagna was a huge hit.

This construction crew has worked in our downtown 10-12 hours a day, day in and day out, in all kinds of weather, for some eight months now, to construct a new drainage system that will solve a long-standing stormwater problem downtown. It’s actions like that of the National Bank that lead many of the workers to say to me, “I love working in Middlebury, the people here are so friendly!”

What We’re Watching

Last week we talked books. This week I wanted to remind you that the 2018-19 Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival Winter/Spring Screening Series begins this Friday night at 7 PM at Town Hall Theater. First up is Eighth Grade, billed as the humorous and poignant story of a teenage girl trying to survive the last week of eighth grade. The film won the 2018 Audience Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. You can read more about Eighth Grade and the entire Screening Series here.

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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