Did you happen to read the letter to the editor in Monday’s Addison Independent speculating that the temporary lull in our downtown construction project is the result of a labor dispute, a hold-up in federal funding, or unforeseen problems with the construction plan?
I hadn’t heard those rumors before. As we discussed in one of my updates a few weeks ago, though, the real explanation, which has to do with the sequencing of construction contracts, is decidedly more mundane.
Installation of the temporary bridges in Summer 2017 was the first construction contract for our project. Construction of the drainage system and access roads was a second contract; that one wrapped up last week. The third and final contract—covering construction of the rail tunnel in central downtown and rebuilding of the rail corridor as it passes through Middlebury from Otter Creek on the south end to Elm Street on the north—will be awarded shortly, with work scheduled to begin in the July/August timeframe.
As I announced last week, you’ll have an opportunity to get the full story on the final two years of construction when VTrans and general contractor Kubricky present the 2019-21 construction plan at a special Selectboard meeting to be held June 4 at 7 PM at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society on Charles Avenue in Middlebury.
As always, if you have a question or concern about the project, let me know. I will always respond. And if you know someone you think might be interested in these weekly updates, please forward the link or email. The better informed our town is, the more we can work together to address these challenges.
The P.O. 2020 Plan
Last week a reader who picks up her mail daily from a P.O. box asked me how she would be able to get to the Post Office in Summer 2020.
Here's what the parking plan for the Post Office currently looks like.
Starting May 27, 2020 Main Street will be closed for 10 weeks between Bakery Lane/Mill Street on the west and Seymour Street on the east.
Even though Main Street will be closed to through traffic, eleven parking spots will be available on Main Street near the intersection with Seymour Street: one directly in front of the Post Office, three in front of the Community House, and seven on the Village Green side of Main Street just east of the crosswalk. Two of these parking spots will be reserved for handicap parking: the one directly in front of the Post Office and one next to the crosswalk on the Village Green side of the street.
Flaggers will be stationed at the Main Street/Seymour Street intersection to allow traffic to safely enter and exit these parking spots. You will be able to turn right off of Seymour Street to enter the parking area or left if you're coming across from Court Square.
All Main Street and Merchants Row parking will be restored following the 10-week closure.
I know this is going to be a challenge next summer. Let me know your thoughts on this plan.
Neighbors Together Plan Gets Enthusiastic Thumbs Up
Following up on an item in last week’s update, I wanted to let you know that on Tuesday night the Middlebury Selectboard unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed a Neighbors Together plan for managing the impacts of the main phase of the construction project on our community.
The plan was presented by Neighbors Together co-chair Nancy Malcolm and Better Middlebury Partnership executive director Karen Duguay. It was developed collaboratively by all the major project stakeholders, among them Middlebury College, Town Hall Theater, the National Bank of Middlebury, Porter Medical Center, the Better Middlebury Partnership, and the founding Neighbors Together team at St Stephen’s. These folks all turned out on Tuesday night to demonstrate their support for the plan.
Nancy and Karen laid out an ambitious set of programs that build on our initial success with downtown events like the summer block party and Midd Night Stroll, social media marketing, and Bundle @ 60 Main, the newly launched pop-up storefront on Main Street.
Selectboard Chair Brian Carpenter joined other members of the Selectboard in thanking Neighbors Together for the passion and commitment that this volunteer group has brought to the challenges posed by the construction project and pointed out the noticeable enthusiasm in town that their work has created.
Later this month Karen and Nancy will present the Neighbors Together plan to VTrans along with a budget request to fund their programs. You can view the presentation to the Selectboard here.
Your Weekly Construction Update
Another relatively quiet construction week downtown, though one marked by regular activity in Printer’s Alley as GMP prepared to cut over adjacent buildings to the new underground electric service.
Starting at 5 AM Thursday morning, that work got underway with the National Bank, where the new service was operational by 8 AM. The Gas House, Post Office, and Seymour Street fire station will be switched over in the next few days.
Calling All Walkers: NBM "Marathon" Set for Next Weds
Need an excuse to get out and walk at lunchtime? Could you use a little fun, camaraderie, and community spirit outdoors during our rainy “Spring”? The National Bank of Middlebury’s 6th Annual Marble Works Marathon may be just your cup of tea.
This tongue-in-cheek marathon is really a series of short 5-6 minute walks complete with maps “so people don’t get lost.” This year our friends at the National Bank thought it might be fun to expand beyond bank employees and invite all the businesses in Marble Works and along Main Street to participate.
Participants will receive a cool little flashlight and can rehydrate in front of Forth N Goal. Anyone can take part in the fun simply by showing up in front of the National Bank’s Main Office (aka the Duclos building) at 12:30 PM next Wednesday, May 22. Rain or shine, come out and have some fun downtown!
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.