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2019 Update #36

A Holiday Blast, A Benefit for the Bahamas

The fabulous Fall weather that followed Monday's deluge has been much welcomed by all those working on our downtown construction project! There's a lot to report on, so let's right to it.

Weekend Work Plan

As I mentioned in last week’s update, Vermont Rail will again suspend operations this coming weekend—starting early Friday morning and ending Monday morning—so that Maine Drilling & Blasting can continue blasting bedrock in preparation for excavating the rail corridor next summer. That work will take place in a section of the railbed underneath and just north of the Main Street Bridge.

Maine D&B expects to conduct a first blast on Friday afternoon before rush hour and then three blasts each on Saturday and Sunday, at 6:00 am, Noon, and 6:00 pm. Based on our mid-September weekend of blasting, these are approximate times and I will be in the field all weekend working with the crew to minimize the impact of blasting on our holiday weekend and Fall foliage visitors.

During each blast, motorists and pedestrians in the immediate Main Street Bridge area will be asked to stay in place for about 10 minutes. As was the case with our mid-September weekend work, drilling to prepare for blasting will continue overnight on Friday and Saturday.

With train operations suspended and the tracks removed, ECI and Kubricky will spend the weekend upgrading and relocating to a deeper depth town water, sewer, and stormwater drainage lines that cross underneath the rail corridor, again in preparation for next year’s excavation.

The utility work will take place in three locations. Kubricky will install a new stormwater line (see below) about 12 feet below the surface just south of Cross Street Bridge. ECI will install new water and stormwater lines 18 feet below the surface behind the Seymour Street fire station as well as new sewer and stormwater lines about 12 feet below the surface at the gated crossing between Seymour Street and Middle Seymour next to County Tire.

Because trucks will be taking excavated soil to the town’s stump dump on Seymour Street Extension, flaggers will be managing traffic flow in and out of the Marble Works on Middle Seymour Street on Friday and continuing through the weekend.

Your Weekly Construction Update

This week as planned Maine Drilling & Blasting shifted the minipile drilling operation to the section of the rail corridor that sits between our two downtown bridges.

In the 10 weeks since work began, Maine has installed 191 of the planned 330 minipiles at depths ranging from 20 to 40 feet below existing ground. Steel minipiles, as we’ve learned this year, are the foundational element of the support of excavation needed to stabilize the rail slopes downtown. (As an aside, all steel purchased for this project must be made in the U.S. per Federal Highway regulations.)

A Maine D&B subcontractor—Knowles Industrial Services out of Gorham, Maine—arrived in town on Wednesday to stabilize the steep slopes behind Grace Baptist Church and the Bourdon building and between St. Stephen’s and the rail line. To do that, Knowles is installing shotcrete: concrete that is sprayed through a hose at high velocity onto a steel mesh support.

A third Maine D&B drill was also at work between the two bridges this week installing soil nails, another element in stabilizing those slopes.

Minipile, soil nail, and shotcrete work will all continue next week.

On the south end of the project, Kubricky continued working through a sloppy mix of clay soil and groundwater to install pipes and manholes for the new town sewer line that will extend from the pump station behind the Battell Block to the foot of the trestle bridge crossing Otter Creek at Water Street. That work will continue next week while Kubricky tests sections of the line in preparation for it going live.

Kubricky also began installing a new 42-inch-diameter stormwater drainage line that will parallel the new sewer line behind South Pleasant Street. This week’s work focused on installing a new catch basin just south of Cross Street Bridge to connect with existing stormwater lines draining Cross Street and constructing a concrete headwall to manage the flow of stormwater into Otter Creek. Next week Kubricky will begin extending the stormwater line north along the rail line.

While the new sewer main runs south to north, taking sewage from MUHS and the residential neighborhood around the high school north toward our wastewater treatment plant, the new stormwater drainage line runs north to south, draining the area from Merchants Row Bridge south along South Pleasant Street and Cross Street.

Finally, ECI was in town this week to prep the rail line for this weekend’s utility work and blasting.

Notes from Around Town

Here's something that puts our downtown construction project into perspective. A special concert will take place next Friday, October 18, to benefit Hopetown Fire & Rescue, a group of volunteers who are aiding in a cleanup operation on the island of Elbow Cay in the Bahamas.

I’m sure you, like me, remember the scenes of devastation from August when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas with 185 mph sustained winds, the highest wind speed ever recorded at landfall for an Atlantic hurricane. Dorian left 70,000 people homeless in the Bahamas.

To raise money for the relief effort, Flautist Catherine Nichols and organist Fred DeHaven will accompany mezzo-soprano Olga Perez Flora, who recently sang in the Opera Company of Middlebury’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire, in a concert that includes arias by Bach, Massenet, and Bizet, songs by Gershwin and Sussman, and instrumental solos by Bach, Handel and Ibert.

The event gets underway next Friday at 7 pm at St. Stephen’s. Suggested donation is $10.

Finally, Porter Medical Center’s contribution to our Summer and Fall walking challenge winds up next Tuesday, October 15, at Mary Hogan with a brief talk by Porter Registered Dietitian Sumra Harper-Deas on the topic, “Setting Goals To Help You Succeed.” Things get underway at 4:45 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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