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2019 Update #44

One More Blast, A Very Merry Middlebury

The Highlights

  • 2019 downtown utility work at an end

  • Parking restored on Main Street and Merchants Row

  • Support your local businesses and celebrate your community

As the week draws to a close, so too do six weeks of disruption downtown.

You probably became familiar with the scenario. Traffic on Main Street reduced to one lane. Merchants Row periodically closed to thru traffic. Sidewalks closed and torn up and pedestrians asked to make “I’d rather not” detours. Downtown parking spaces temporarily taken up by construction. And then winter came.

Though it could be hard to appreciate in the midst of this disruption, there are benefits to this work that will emerge over the longer run.

The Town now has a new sewer line serving an area that extends from MUHS through the Water Street and South Pleasant Street neighborhoods and up into central downtown. Vermont Gas took advantage of the downtown excavation to install piping that will allow it to bring natural gas to the Battell Block and to Main Street north of the Battell Bridge at project end. New stormwater infrastructure should improve the quality of run-off entering Otter Creek.

In the short run, getting this work done this year puts us in a favorable position to complete next year’s shutdown of Main Street and Merchants Row in less than 10 weeks.

For now, though, it’s time for a breather. If you’ve been reluctant to come downtown because of the construction, now is your time!

(The one wild card here is Consolidated Communications aka the former FairPoint. As I mentioned in my note earlier this week, Consolidated will be in town next Monday, December 9, to repair a phone line serving the Battell Block. That may require some roadwork in Merchants Row. I’ll report out on that when I have more info.)

It’s That Time of Year

Before we get to the weekly construction update, I want to remind you that one of our most special Middlebury traditions, The Better Middlebury Partnership’s annual A Very Merry Middlebury, kicks off this Saturday with a day full of events celebrating the holiday season and our community.

You can join the crowd that will be welcoming Santa and friends to town at 9:30 AM Saturday morning with a mini parade up Main Street. Santa will then be holding court with the kids at the Middlebury Inn from 10 AM to Noon.

Other reasons to come downtown Saturday include horse and wagon rides, the electric train display at the Sheldon Museum, gingerbread house making at the Ilsley Public Library, the gingerbread display and contest at the Vermont Folklife Center, holiday movies at the Marquis Theater, caroling, milk and cookies, the holiday Farmers’ Market at Mary Hogan, and, as they say, so much more.

The roads are open, the parking’s back, the snow’s been cleared. So come on downtown and join in the holiday fun.

For a full rundown of upcoming holiday events, check The Addison Independent and the BMP’s website.

‘Tis the Season

Speaking of holiday spirit, John Derick, volunteer Trails Coordinator for the Middlebury Area Land Trust, asked me to pass on that ECI—the subcontractor that built the launch pit last year and will soon return to town to work on the north end of the rail corridor—recently delivered gravel to Wright Park at no cost so that TAM volunteers could fix wet spots on the Trail Around Middlebury, which you may know is heavily used by runners, walkers, and bikers. John reports that ECI, many of whose crew are locals, was pleased to have an opportunity to do something to benefit the TAM and the citizens of Middlebury.

You can learn more about the Trail Around Middlebury and MALT here.

Your Weekly Construction Update

Kubricky completed installing a new sewer line for the Post Office this week by extending the line installed across Main Street last week. This included laying pipe in front of St. Stephen’s and up through the Town Green and, on the other end, down alongside the Post Office toward the rail line.

Maine Drilling & Blasting spent the week once again drilling in the rail corridor, both below St. Stephen’s and south of the Merchants Row Bridge. That work will continue next week.

Next week Kubricky will finish repaving sidewalk and roadway areas that have been torn up before the last paving plant in Vermont closes at the end of the week.

Final Weekend of Blasting

This coming weekend is the fourth and final weekend set aside for blasting bedrock beneath the Main Street Bridge. The blasting side of Maine Drilling & Blasting will be in town drilling starting Friday morning. They expect to blast periodically starting Friday afternoon.

At the Town’s request, no blasting or drilling will take place in the area around Main Street during the Very Merry Middlebury Saturday morning festivities between 9 AM and 1 PM. During this time, Maine will be placing dynamite in the charge holes and hauling blasting mats into place. That activity has attracted many kids, both young and old, during the past three blasting weekends, so perhaps another reason to come downtown, shop, and enjoy A Very Merry Middlebury kick-off.

Goings On Around Town

Middlebury New Film Festival’s MNFF Selects Biography Series continues this weekend with a special matinee showing of Amazing Grace, a Sydney Pollack documentary that celebrates Aretha Franklin’s gospel roots during two days of filming at LA’s New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in 1972. Unreleased for decades for reasons that you’ll discover when you watch the film, this powerful documentary captures the Queen of Soul at her gospel best. Showtime is 2 PM Saturday, December 8. Tickets are $15 at the door. More info here.

Next Thursday, December 12, St. Stephen’s will host the second of three Advent concerts. The Addison String Quartet—Emily Sunderman, Carol Harden, Joy Pile, and Tom Dunne—will premiere Lux Aeterna, a string quartet by Middlebury’s own Jorge Martin, and perform Mozart String Quartet K421 in D minor. The performance begins at 12:15 PM in the church.

Feeling a wee bit stressed by the holidays and end-of-year rush? Your favorite pop-up storefront, Bundle @ 51 Main, may have a solution. On Saturday, December 14, Bundle hosts a Yin Yoga and Biofield Tuning Workshop that promises to reconnect you to the natural rhythms of the universe. How can you not attend? The workshop gets underway at 3 PM. Registration and more info here.

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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