It was a memorable weekend. Picture-perfect mid-October weather. Fall foliage at peak. A holiday. Middlebury College’s Homecoming. Oh yes, and construction activity up and down the downtown rail corridor in the busiest of the four Fall weekends on which construction will take place this year.
During the weekend the construction team conducted seven blasts in central downtown and relocated town utilities at three locations along the rail corridor. Let’s start our weekly update with a quick recap of what took place.
Maine Drilling & Blasting's job was to continue removing bedrock underneath and just north of the Main Street Bridge in order to reduce or eliminate blasting work during next summer's shutdown. Maine D&B conducted blasts Friday at 6:30 pm, Saturday at 8 am, 1 pm, and 6 pm, and Sunday at 8 am, Noon, and 4 pm.
Pedestrians and motorists and Sunday church-goers in the vicinity of Main Street Bridge were held up momentarily during each blast. The construction team reported no damage to any of our historic downtown buildings.
Kubricky installed a new 42-inch stormwater drainage line underneath the rail line and connected it to a new headwall just south of Cross Street Bridge. ECI upgraded and relocated water and stormwater lines behind the Seymour St fire station and water and sewer lines at the old crossing gate just south of the Depot at Middle Seymour Street. Some of this work took place well into the night.
This amount of work doesn’t get done on a weekend without some impact on the local community. Trucks hauled dozens of loads of excavated soil from the rail corridor through the Marble Works to the town’s stump dump at the end of Seymour Street Extension and then brought stone fill back to the rail line.
Despite the construction activity, the Marble Works was aswarm with locals and visitors on Friday and Saturday. Maria Graham and crew at Junebug, Robin Huestis and volunteers at Round Robin, and Danielle and Steve Boyce and the Flatbread team all deserve appreciation for their patience and good humor working through the clatter of construction.
The same is true for the residents of Middle Seymour Street, Maple Street, Seymour Street, Cross Street, and Water Street, who had to contend with light towers illuminating work areas at night and construction vehicles operating throughout the weekend.
The fabulous Fall weather brought many visitors to watch the construction and ponder the storyboards in front of the Post Office that explain our downtown construction project.
Train service, which had been suspended for the weekend per an agreement with VTrans, was restored as planned early Monday morning.
The next round of weekend work will take place November 9-10.
Your Weekly Construction Update
This week Maine Drilling & Blasting shifted the minipile drilling operation to the temporary access road that runs alongside Otter Creek behind South Pleasant Street. Depending on the extent of Thursday’s rainstorm, Maine expects to complete that work by the end of this week.
In the 11 weeks since work began, Maine has now installed 216 of the planned 330 minipiles at depths ranging from 20 to 40 feet below existing ground.
Next week, as we move toward the end of October, Maine will drill minipiles underneath the Merchants Row Bridge and begin grouting the minipiles previously installed alongside the Battell Block driveway.
To accomplish this work, Merchants Row will be closed to thru traffic on Wednesday, October 23, through the end of the week. Maine may need to take one or two parking spaces in front of the Battell Block to get this work done. As a reminder, I’ll send out a separate note on the road closure next week.
The subcontractor Knowles will be back in town next Wednesday to continue its work stabilizing the steep slopes behind Grace Baptist Church and the Bourdon building and between St. Stephen’s and the rail line. You may remember that Knowles is stabilizing these slopes with shotcrete: concrete that is sprayed through a hose at high velocity onto a steel mesh support.
This week Kubricky expects to complete the section of the new town sewer line that extends from the pump station behind the Battell Block to the foot of the trestle bridge crossing Otter Creek at Water Street. Sections of the line have been tested as it has been built and Kubricky expects the new line to go live end of this week. Kubricky will then cut and cap the old clay sewer line, which sits about 12 feet underground alongside Otter Creek.
Kubricky continued installing the new town stormwater drainage line that will parallel the new sewer line behind South Pleasant Street, working their way north from Cross Street Bridge toward the Battell Block. That line captures stormwater draining toward the river from the high ground on South Pleasant Street.
Kubricky will install catch basins at regular intervals along the stormwater drainage line. Each catch basin contains a sump that captures sediment and other debris before it can reach Otter Creek. The town’s Department of Public Works will have access to the catch basins so that they can periodically clean out the sumps. By next week, Kubricky expects to have installed the new drainage system as far north as Smith Housing.
Another Maine D&B drill crew will be at work between the two bridges next week installing tiebacks, another element in stabilizing those slopes.
Coming Soon: Temporary Closure of Printer’s Alley
Kubricky hasn’t yet set a date for this work but I wanted to let you know that, within the month, Printer’s Alley will be closed to pedestrians for about a week and there will be lane closures on Main Street and Merchants Row in order to complete upgrading the downtown sewer line.
So far we’ve been focusing on the section of the new town sewer line that Kubricky has been installing behind South Pleasant Street. That line runs from the Otter Creek trestle bridge to the pump station at the foot of the Battell Block driveway.
A brief explanation may be in order here. Sewer lines typically run downhill powered by gravity. When they have to run uphill—such as, for example, up the Battell driveway—a pump is required to “push” the sewage uphill through a “force main,” the section of the sewer line that runs uphill under pressure. Hence the pump station at the bottom of the Battell driveway.
A second segment of the new town sewer line will run from that pump station up the Battell driveway, down Merchants Row, up Main Street, and down Printer’s Alley to a manhole in the roadway leading to the National Bank’s parking lot. From there, the existing line runs north to the town’s wastewater treatment plant on Industrial Avenue north of Exchange Street.
I’ll give as much advance notice on this work as I can once I have specific dates and detour plans.
Notes from Around Town
Bundle, our innovative pop-up storefront now located at 51 Main, continues to offer a wide range of programs to the community.
On Saturday you can join Jennifer Parmelee for a two-hour "transformative practice that will cultivate deep serenity and a calm awakening towards self-care.” The goal is to relax and renew yourself with a gentle asana practice, meditation, restorative yoga postures, and revitalizing aromatherapy. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you can pre-register by emailing Jennifer@parmadharmayoga.com. Cost is $45 pre-register and $50 for walk-ins.
To see what’s coming up in November at Bundle, look here.
Also, I wanted to remind you about the special concert taking place at St. Stephen’s this 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.
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 at 7:30 pm at St. Stephen’s. Suggested donation is $10.
Finally, is it too early to start thinking about the holiday season? I think not. The Sheldon Museum is readying one of our favorite Middlebury traditions—the holiday train exhibit—for its debut on December 7. Gayl Braisted’s painting of the Green Mountains as a backdrop to the display is a real nice touch. Kids of all ages can get the details here.
That’s all for today. See you downtown.
Please keep your comments and questions coming. Send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll try to cover it in my next update.