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2019 Update #27

Reflective Vest Alert, Downtown Block Party On Deck

A small army of yellow and orange reflective vests descended on downtown this week, signaling the onset, once again, of construction. The first week played out pretty much as planned. Let’s review what we accomplished and what’s ahead.

Your Weekly Construction Update

Maine Drilling & Blasting mobilized its drilling rig and steel minipiles in Triangle Park on Monday and Tuesday and then started drilling the first of 333 minipiles that will stabilize the rail abutments during next summer’s excavation and reconstruction of the downtown rail line.

The drilling of minipiles has been a consistent feature of construction since Summer 2017’s installation of the temporary bridges. While the noise from drilling in Triangle Park is certainly noticeable, those in the nearby buildings are not finding it disruptively so.

As it completes drilling in Triangle Park, Maine D&B will shift to installing four minipiles across the lower entrance to the Merchants Row Bridge. That will require closing Merchants Row Bridge to motorists and pedestrians on Friday and Monday, between 7 AM and 7 PM. Parking in front of the Battell Block will be unaffected and the Battell driveway will remain open. Pedestrians walking between the Battell Block and Town Hall Theater are asked to use the Town Green. Merchants Row Bridge will be open this weekend.

Once Maine D&B completes its work on the Merchants Row Bridge, the drill rig team will head to the south end of the project, near Cross Street Bridge, and begin working its way back north behind South Pleasant Street and Town Hall Theater.

Kubricky, for its part, spent the first days of the week preparing pads for the drill rigs to work from and grubbing the slope above the rail line behind South Pleasant Street. (Grubbing simply refers to clearing stumps and shrubs from a construction site.) As planned, Kubricky “flooded the tracks” with stone fill so that the drill rigs can more easily move up and down the rail corridor.

The week of August 19, Kubricky expects to begin work constructing a new town sewer line that will parallel the rail track below South Pleasant Street in the area that was grubbed this week.

Instrumentation and monitoring specialists from GeoComp are in town this week and next for a third consecutive year conducting pre-construction inspections of buildings that are likely to experience vibrations during the next two years of construction. These range from the oldest house in Middlebury—7 Seymour Street, the first home of Gamaliel Painter—to Grace Baptist Church on Merchants Row and a dozen other buildings downtown.

As you’ve seen, the five parking spaces that sit alongside Triangle Park on Main Street have been fenced off to provide safe entrance and exit for construction vehicles working in the Triangle Park area. Lafayette completed installing those orange constructions signs around town.

As I mentioned last week, Vermont Rail has now transitioned to a schedule that limits rail traffic passing through Middlebury to between 2 AM and 6 AM. That schedule will stay in place through the end of this year’s construction.

Finally, a reminder that construction hours of operation this year have been lengthened to 7 AM to 9 PM. Most days we expect work to wrap up at 7 PM, which would mark the end of a 12-hour shift.

A Smoother Ride

As you noticed if you were passing through Main Street on Wednesday morning, Kubricky patched a section of the Main Street Bridge that has been giving motorists a noticeable jolt driving across the bridge headed down Main Street. Hopefully, that will stay fixed before Kubricky repaves the entire bridge in advance of winter.

Kubricky also extended the paving of sections of the pathway running from the Marble Works parking lot down to the pedestrian bridge across the Otter Creek. This year’s heavy rains have been washing out efforts to re-seed the area.

Downtown Block Party Wednesday, August 14!

As I mentioned two weeks ago, Neighbors Together and the Better Middlebury Partnership are bringing our Downtown Block Party back for a third year next Wednesday, August 14.

The past two years this event has drawn hundreds of people downtown to celebrate our community, shop in our downtown stores, and have a fun time out on a summer evening.

Once again, there will be plenty of activities for kids, including, back by popular demand, the Dunk Tank and Kubricky’s mini-excavator (sorry, kids only). Also, live music from The Horse Traders, games, great shopping specials and deals, and giveaways and raffles.

And, of course, really good food. Mad Taco, soon to debut in Old Stone Mill, will be selling its famous tacos and beer. Local favorite Bobcat Cafe will be bringing its mobile food truck to town as part of Town Hall Theater’s Spinning Plates program. And for dessert, the Dairy Fairy will be showcasing small-batch artisan gelato “tacos,” ice cream sandwiches, sundaes, popsicles, ice cream bombs, and more. Plus plenty of free treats, including popcorn, cotton candy, and snow cones.

Main Street will be closed from the roundabout to Merchants Row starting at 2 PM that day so that sod, donated by Come Alive Outside, can again be laid down on Main Street. The event runs from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.

Please plan to attend and support your downtown!

The New Junebug

Have you been into the new Junebug space in the Marble Works?

Smith & McClain and Marble Works management did a nice job of renovating this space, which sits just behind Printer’s Alley and next to Round Robin, our other great “upscale resale” store in the Marble Works. Executive Director Maria Graham and her business partner Lynn Kiel report that sales in June doubled those of last year, when they were located in Star Mill, and they are excited about the future.

Billing itself as “a funky little non-profit resale shop,” Junebug offers carefully curated, affordable clothing for babies, children, and mothers-to-be and supports our community by partnering with caregivers, local schools, and other non-profit organizations providing high-quality clothing at no cost to families in need.

You can follow Junebug on Instagram and Facebook and at Better yet, stop by!

Looking Back to Look Ahead

Those of us who made our way to Bundle @ 60 Main on Monday afternoon and evening for the Stories Matter event were treated to a lively and frequently humorous walk-through of downtown Middlebury seen through the eyes of its long-time residents.

Hudson Tilford, Jimmy Egan, Leigh Ann Barrera, Ann Webster, Dick Thodal, and others shared stories, characters, and stores from the past with the more than 100 who turned out for the event.

While some of the best stories may never get aired in public, there were plenty of good ones to share. And, as host Priscilla Baker reminded us, change has been a constant in Middlebury’s life and the change coming our way during the next two years and beyond is one more chapter to be written in the town’s ongoing story.

If you missed the event, MCTV filmed it and you can view it here once it’s posted.

Notes from Around Town

Our downtown flowers continue to be blessed with volunteers handling the watering and feeding. Taking charge in these first two weeks of August are friends from Havurah and the Friends Meeting, led by David Rosenberg. Last month Shirley Carlson's team from St. Mary's Church included Albert Banner, Kathy Skubikowski, Suzie Quesnel, and Kathy Nilsson.

Porter Medical Center’s contribution to our “30 Miles in 30 Days” walking challenge continues next Tuesday at Mary Hogan with a brief talk by Porter’s Fred Kniffin on “Population Health.” Things get underway every Tuesday at 5:15 PM.

And remember: If you keep track of your daily miles, wherever you walk, you can submit your 30-mile walking log at our Downtown Block Party on Wednesday, August 14, for a chance to win one of five $100 Middlebury Money prizes.

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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