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2019 Update #32

Blasting Plan Recap, Fab Fleas

Construction continued apace this week, ranging from installation of the new town sewer line south of Cross Street Bridge to the drilling of charge holes for this weekend’s blasting north of the Main Street Bridge. There’s a lot to cover so let’s get right to it.

Your Weekly Construction Update

This week Maine Drilling & Blasting continued installing minipiles to stabilize the slope that forms the rail abutment alongside the Battell Block driveway, working their way up the driveway and across the driveway entrance to the Merchants Row temporary bridge.

As of Thursday morning, six weeks into this year’s construction, Maine D&B had installed 96 of the planned 330 minipiles.

Kubricky may need to temporarily close the Merchants Row Bridge to thru traffic on Friday or Monday so that Maine D&B can install two additional minipiles on the St. Stephen’s side of the bridge.

Speaking of road closures, as planned, Kubricky closed the Battell driveway this week so that all motor vehicles entering or exiting the lower Battell Block parking lot did so via the temporary access road and Water Street. Traffic was sparse, with only a fortunate few taking the scenic route along Otter Creek. The Battell driveway reopened each evening.

The second Maine D&B drill rig continued drilling charge holes in bedrock this week in preparation for the blasting needed to remove that bedrock in the vicinity of the Main Street Bridge. As we reviewed in detail last week, that blasting gets underway this weekend (see below for a recap of this weekend’s work plan).

In other action, Kubricky continued installing the new town sewer line along the South Pleasant Street side of the rail line. That sewer line sits some 14 feet below the current grade.

The Kubricky crew also excavated the rail abutment below St. Stephen’s to create space for minipiles to be installed and removed half a dozen concrete piers from beneath the two bridges that had been used to support steel I-beams underneath the bridges. Each of those piers, pictured below and dating back to the 1920s, weighs approximately 14,000 pounds.

During the week, at our request, Kubricky switched its back-up alarms to lower-decibel “white noise” alarms and has asked its subcontractors to do the same.

A third Maine D&B drill rig set up in Triangle Park to begin drilling tiebacks into the minipile/timber lagging structure holding back the soil facing the rail line. A tieback is a steel cable used to apply additional stability to a retaining wall. Those tiebacks will be “pull-out” tested before the finishing touch—the waler—is installed. The waler connects the tieback to the minipile, completing the support of excavation system.

Finally, Consolidated Communications removed the last utility lines running on the utility poles in Printer’s Alley and then removed the poles themselves on Thursday, significantly altering the overhead landscape at the entrance to the Marble Works. Come down and take a look. This really opens up the view and will enhance the gateway between Main Street and the Marble Works when the new Lazarus Park is complete.

Weekend Work Review

Last week I previewed the construction activity scheduled to take place this weekend. Nothing significant has changed in the intervening week but let’s review what’s planned.

As a reminder, two things need to be accomplished before the rail corridor is excavated and rebuilt next year. Bedrock needs to be removed from underneath and around the Main Street Bridge and town water, sewer, and stormwater lines that currently cross under the rail line have to be lowered. These two tasks will be the focus when Vermont Rail is off the tracks for an extended period on four weekends this Fall.

For starters, ECI will remove the track on Friday morning, restoring it in time for renewed train service Monday morning.

Maine Drilling & Blasting still plans to conduct about seven blasts, starting with a test blast on Friday evening around 7 PM and continuing on Saturday and Sunday with blasts at approximately 6 AM, Noon, and 6 PM.

The blasts will take place in a 100-foot section of the rail corridor that stretches from a spot roughly opposite the back of the Post Office northward. As was the protocol last year, pedestrians and motorists within the radius of the blast area will be asked to stay in place for about 10 minutes before each blast.

While Maine D&B is conducting its blasts, Kubricky will be extending underneath the rail line the new town sewer line being constructed behind South Pleasant Street. That work will take place primarily on Friday (day and night) immediately behind the Smith Housing buildings and across the creek from The Arcadian/Haymaker.

It’s likely to be intermittently noisy downtown overnight on Friday and Saturday as drilling and rock removal take place post-blasting in a 24-hour-a-day operation. The construction areas will be illuminated with four light towers in the blasting area, two at the sewer line crossing, one underneath Cross Street Bridge on the temporary access road, and one at the town’s Stump Dump.

The light towers run off generators, as do pumps that will be used to temporarily redirect the existing sewer line to allow for construction this weekend.

None of this work should disrupt Sunday services at St. Stephen’s or at the Congregational Church, Grace Baptist Church, and the Memorial Baptist Church.

Next Week’s Construction Plan

Next week Maine D&B will move the minipile drilling operation to the north end of the project, up near the northern receiving pit that sits between the Middlebury Fire Department and Junebug. In advance of this work, minipiles are being stored in the parking spaces in the Marble Works alongside the rail line.

Kubricky will work toward completing the northern segment of the new sewer line, setting a new sewer manhole structure and then connecting that to the town’s pump station that sits at the bottom of the Battell driveway. The Battell Block will return to normal use of its parking lot next week.

On Thursday, ECI will be back in town to shift 600 feet of the downtown rail line as it passes underneath the downtown bridges to the west side of the abutment to create room to install minipiles on the eastern side.

Notes from Around Town

After making your weekly Saturday morning visit to the Farmer’s Market, head on over to Town Hall Theater for the 10th Annual Fabulous Flea Market. This much-anticipated event, which gets underway at 9 AM on Saturday and runs until 2 PM, features antiques, collectibles, household goods, jewelry, and other treasures. Admission is free and sales benefit Town Hall Theater. Get there early for the best parking spots on the upper stretch of Merchants Row!

Amy Hastings reports that the Neighbors Together flowers downtown are overflowing their containers. Have you noticed? They're being cared for this month by a team of volunteers from the Middlebury Congregational Church led by Pat Chase. Many thanks to all our volunteers. It's taken a village of folks from our local faith communities and other friends to keep our flowers flourishing during this summer. And that's what Neighbors Together is all about.

Porter Medical Center’s contribution to our Summer and Fall walking challenge continues next Tuesday at Mary Hogan with a brief talk by Porter’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anna Benvenuto on the topic, “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body.” Things get underway every Tuesday at 5:15 PM.

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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