As the first quarter of 2019 draws to a close (already?), it was a busy week of planning meetings with both local organizations—Town Hall Theater, ACTR, the Selectboard—and the VTrans project team.
Every week I meet for half a day with the project leaders at VTrans, Kubricky, and VHB. These meetings provide me with information on project plans that I then share with you and with key stakeholders downtown. They also give me a weekly opportunity to advocate on behalf of our community.
Thursday’s meeting, for example, which took place at the VTrans facility across from the regional airport in Berlin, focused on managing traffic flow through our downtown in Summer 2020 when Main Street and Merchants Row are both closed for 10 weeks, clearly a topic of concern to all of us who are going to have to navigate town during this period.
My knowledge of local traffic flow is helping the traffic engineers responsible for developing traffic control plans for Summer 2020 anticipate and manage traffic trouble spots.
In Thursday’s meeting, we focused on the key intersection of Court Street/Route 7 and Cross Street—the Cross Street Bridge will have to carry the bulk of our crosstown traffic during the closure—and on South Pleasant Street as it outlets to Cross Street.
We made plans for involving Middlebury emergency services—our police and fire departments and Middlebury regional EMS—and our two largest employers—Middlebury College and Porter Medical Center—early on in the traffic planning process. And we identified two downtown locations where rerouted ACTR buses could safely pull out of traffic while taking pedestrians from one side of town to the other.
I’ll have a lot more to share on these plans as they become final.
Your Weekly Construction Update
As the weekend’s unexpectedly large snow storm slowly melted, ECI continued backfilling the Launch Pit and installed what is known as a “GRES wall” within the stone backfill. As shown in the photo below, a GRES wall is typically a horizontal grid of synthetic material. In this case, it is being used to reinforce the outer wall of the Launch Pit during reconstruction of the downtown rail corridor.
The clearing of trees in the downtown rail corridor was completed on Monday with the removal of the three maple trees that sit on federal property between the Post Office and the rail corridor. As I mentioned last week, I’m afraid this work was necessary in order for the State to install a new sewer line for the Post Office. Those three trees will be replaced at project’s end with several native shade trees as recommended by the Middlebury Tree Committee and the Town’s Design Advisory Committee.
So now that the trees are cut we’re left with a lot of felled trees sitting on the ground. Removal of the trees got underway on Thursday with the first two of several loads being delivered by Trees Incorporated to HOPE for its emergency firewood shelter up on Boardman Street.
Your Tree City USA
An unexpected benefit of the tree clearing for me was the opportunity to get to know the members and the work of the Middlebury Tree Committee. Their mission, simply stated, is the stewardship of the town’s public trees. Their members are Tree Warden Chris Zeoli, Leslie Kameny, Judy Wiger-Grohs, Sally Thodal, Karri Ingerson, Department of Public Works Operations Director Bill Kernan, and County Forester Chris Olson.
This year, thanks to their hard work and sustained effort on behalf of our “green infrastructure,” Middlebury became one of only 8 towns in Vermont to be designated a Tree City USA by the national Arbor Day Foundation. You can learn more about this program, which recognizes communities for their excellence in urban forestry management, here.
That’s all for today. See you downtown.
Please keep your comments and questions coming. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to cover it in my next update.