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2019 Update #33

Post-Blast Wrap, Our Downtown Neighborhoods, Bourdon Insurance

It was a busy weekend around town. And that’s not counting the around-the-clock construction that took place!

This was the first of four Fall weekends on which Vermont Rail will vacate the tracks so that Maine Drilling & Blasting can break up bedrock that lies beneath the rail line in the area around the Main Street Bridge and Kubricky can install town utility lines underneath the rail corridor.

Maine D&B conducted six blasts in a section of track between the Post Office and the Gas House: Friday at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 8 am and 4 pm, and Sunday at 7:30 am, 1 pm, and 6:30 pm.

There was no damage to downtown buildings according to sensors deployed on all the nearby historic buildings and work took place without any noticeable disruption to Town Hall Theater’s Fabulous Flea Market, MALT’s annual TAM Trek, Woofstock, a wedding reception Sunday evening at Flatbread, Saturday shopping, and Sunday church services. Quite a few kids (and their parents) congregated on the footbridge to watch the action.

On the south end of the project, behind Smith Housing, Kubricky extended the new town sewer line they are constructing underneath the rail line. That work was completed early Saturday. Rail service was restored early Monday morning.

The next construction weekend is scheduled for October 13-14 and I’ll have details on that as we get closer.

Recognizing Our Downtown Neighborhoods

Most of the concern about the construction project’s impact on Middlebury has been focused on the well-being of our downtown businesses. That’s not surprising, given the dual challenges of today’s retail environment and a five-year construction project right next door.

What’s become clear in the past several weeks is the impact of the project on our downtown residential neighborhoods.

For those living on Water Street, Cross Street, South Pleasant Street, in the Battell Block and the Marble Works, on Seymour Street and Seymour Street Extension, this year’s construction—and the shift of rail operations to the middle of the night—can be a challenge.

I want to thank those many downtown neighborhood residents who have reached out for information on the project and suggested ways to minimize the impact of construction on their neighborhoods.

Patience and understanding are not always easy to come by in the face of back-up alarms and idling trucks. But as we saw in a neighborhood meeting on Water Street this past Saturday with representatives of VTrans and Kubricky, they set the tone for productive discussion and get results that will improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods while construction is underway.

And the project team would want me to again pass on their thanks to the many neighbors who have provided them with home-baked treats. That definitely gets results!

Bourdon Insurance Relocating to Court Street

Many of you will know by now that the Bourdon Insurance Agency, a fixture on Merchants Row for nearly six decades, is merging with the Richards Group and relocating to 94 Court Street and the former offices of the Holden Agency.

Bourdon Insurance Agency, which specializes in property and casualty insurance, was founded in 1964 by Andy Bourdon, who found time to sell insurance in the evenings while managing the family dairy farm on Route 7 north of Exchange Street and working as a salesman for Pike Paving.

In 1968, Andy sold the farm and six years later bought the historic building at 48 Merchants Row from George Gaydos. At that time the building housed Pauline’s Hair Fashions, Bud Lundrigan’s Barber Shop, a travel agency, and two upstairs apartments as well as the insurance business.

In 1983, Andy’s daughter Sue joined brothers Kevin and Andy Jr. in the business, eventually co-owning it with her father and brother Andy Jr., who passed away in 2000. Kevin moved on to Co-operative Insurance, where he still works.

Fast forward to 2019 and a series of changes. Andy Bourdon passed away in May at the age of 86. The State of Vermont, concerned about construction’s impact on the property, bought the Bourdon building in July. And on October 1, Bourdon Insurance Agency will officially join the Richards Group. Making the move, in addition to Sue Bourdon, are longtime employees Missy Clifford, Wendy Hunt, and Stacy Tallen.

The State has not yet developed a plan for the building post-construction.

We often remark that change is the one constant in life and while this change may well be in the best interests of Sue, her many customers, and the Bourdon Insurance Agency as it marks 55 years of business, many will miss this special spot on Merchants Row across from the Town Green where for two generations the Bourdon family welcomed friends and neighbors.

Your Weekly Construction Update

As planned, this week Maine D&B moved 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. That work will continue into next week as Maine D&B installs minipiles on both sides of the rail line.

On the south end of the project, as shown in the photograph below, Nop’s MetalWorks lowered steel sleeves into the minipiles installed alongside the Battell Block driveway while Maine D&B filled the minipiles with grout supplied by Carrara.

Special thanks to those who live and work in the Battell Block for trudging up and down an often-muddy driveway while squeezing past a noisy minipile operation the past several days. The Battell driveway will remain open now until water and sewer line work scheduled for October. More on that later.

As I noted earlier this week, Merchants Row will be closed to thru traffic on Friday, September 20, so that minipile work can be completed in the area around Merchants Row Bridge.

Next week Kubricky will continue working on the northern segment of the new sewer line while installing timber lagging and walers in Triangle Park.

On Monday, 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. This work, while not disruptively noisy, may stretch into the evening hours and thus require light towers to illuminate the track Monday evening.

Notes from Around Town

Amy Hastings reports that Pat Chase and friends from the Middlebury Congregational Church are keeping our Neighbors Together flowers downtown blooming well into September. A big thank you to Pat, Ruth Penfield, Eliana Canas, and Chima Dimgba for their faithful work. If you see them watering, they'd really appreciate a happy word of gratitude!

Porter Medical Center’s contribution to our Summer and Fall walking challenge continues next Tuesday at Mary Hogan with a brief talk by Porter Registered Dietitian Kathleen Van De Weert on the topic, “Packing Healthy Lunches.” 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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