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2019 Update #11

Downtown Buildings Pass Physical

We usually think about the challenges of the downtown construction project in terms of its impact on our business community, our churches and arts organizations, and our daily lives getting around town.

Last year several of our historic buildings, those bordering the downtown construction, had to contend with their own out-of-the-ordinary impacts: the blasting of bedrock and the ground vibrations triggered by the tunnel boring machine, the hoe ram, and other heavy construction equipment.

How did they do?

Earlier this week, Geocomp was back in town to give them a thorough inspection.

You may remember that last Spring Geocomp’s Instrumentation & Monitoring group (out of Acton, Mass.) set in place seismograph machines, crack gauges, and acoustic microphones to monitor in real time the impacts of 2018 construction on the National Bank of Middlebury, the Post Office, St. Stephen’s, the Seymour Street fire station, the Gas House (aka the stone building at the bottom of Printer’s Alley), and the former State Farm Insurance offices in the Marble Works next to Round Robin.

At the time Geocomp documented every preexisting structural defect with photographs and written notes. The buildings were then continuously monitored throughout the year.

This week Geocomp engineers did a top-to-bottom review of those same buildings. When their work was completed on Wednesday afternoon, they could report that the post-construction condition of each building was unchanged.

Geocomp will be back in Middlebury in a couple of months to prepare our downtown buildings for the main project getting underway later this Summer. I’ll report out which buildings will be monitored and how they will be monitored at that time, but I expect the plan to be similar in scope to this past year’s.

Your Weekly Construction Update

Trees Inc. gathered up and delivered to HOPE the last of the trees they cleared in March along the rail corridor between Cross Street and Elm Street. In addition to the pile in the photograph below, which sits between HOPE and Homeward Bound, there’s a pile of near-equal size at the top of Boardman Street on Foster Brothers Farm land. Thanks to Mark Foster and family for their support.

This may be obvious, but I wanted to make sure you know that the tree stumps and those tree trunks embedded in the iron railing along Seymour Street will all be removed and cleaned up by Kubricky during upcoming construction. I don’t have a timeline on that but will let you know.

Like you, I’m still getting used to the absence of trees, especially next to the Post Office and at the back entrance to the Marble Works. But perhaps you can start to see how these areas will transform as the new rail platform and town parking are built on Middle Seymour Street and the new Lazarus Park takes shape where Main Street and the Marble Works meet in Printer’s Alley.

Over in the Launch Pit (now looking less and less like a pit), ECI continued the backfilling process, bringing in and compacting several truckloads of stone fill. The “GRES wall” that we discussed last week—its purpose is to reinforce the outer wall of the Launch Pit during reconstruction of the downtown rail corridor—is nearly complete. You can see it in the photo below.

Once ECI finishes its work on the Launch Pit, Kubricky will complete the undergrounding of the aerial utilities that span the Printer’s Alley entrance to Marble Works (seen in the background in the above photo). The electric, phone, and telecom lines and the poles and transformers that support them will soon be a thing of the past.

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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