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2019 Update #45

Santa Comes to Town, The Final Blast

The Highlights

  • Four blasting weekends come to end

  • No construction Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day

Wednesday night I was driving home from a friend’s house in West Cornwall. Crossing the Main Street Bridge toward the Congregational Church I was struck by how beautiful our town can be. The downtown lamp posts were alight and hung with wreaths and a fresh snowfall reflected that light.

For those of us who spend a lot of time downtown, construction has become a fact of life. It’s always there. It was good to be reminded that this project, with its very real challenges and hardships, will be behind us and come Winter 2021 the entire Town Green and the new Lazarus Park will be a construction-free winter wonderland.

All Clear

Speaking of construction, the fourth and final weekend of blasting in the rail corridor took place last Saturday and Sunday as planned.

With Vermont Rail operations suspended, Maine Drilling & Blasting conducted four blasts beneath the Main Street Bridge. No blasting or drilling took place downtown between 9 AM and 1 PM Saturday so that Santa's visit and all the activities associated with A Very Merry Middlebury could take place without disruption.

Over the four Fall weekends, Maine Drilling & Blasting conducted 20 blasts. There were no safety issues and none of our historic buildings were damaged.

I’ve talked a lot about Kubricky in these weekly updates. Here I’d like to single out Maine Drilling & Blasting for its professionalism and for its commitment to the safety of our town.

Headed by Vermonters Pat Paquette (left in the photograph below) and Mark Billings, the Maine blasting crew had to contend with omnipresent groundwater, cold weather, balky equipment, and a community liaison looking over their shoulder to get their work done. At one point this weekend the crew worked 23 hours straight to complete the job. My (hard) hat goes off to them.

Before we leave blasting behind, I wanted to share a comment that to me sums up the community’s response to the 38 blasts that have taken place downtown over the past two years.

Sunday’s first blast took place just as St. Stephen’s 10:30 AM worship service was wrapping up and so I had to ask everyone to stay inside the church for a few minutes. Many headed to coffee hour in the downstairs basement, which, I should note, is only a few short feet from where the blast, one of the bigger we conducted this year, was to take place in the rail corridor.

When I went downstairs afterward to ask how everyone did during the blast, there was a brief moment of silence before one member of the congregation piped up, “Well, that was a disappointment!”

And that’s a good thing.

Your Weekly Construction Update

In other construction news, this week a second Maine Drilling & Blasting crew continued to install minipiles and tiebacks along the rail corridor between the Bourdon building and Main Street Bridge while Kubricky excavated the remaining concrete foundation in Printer’s Alley and patched and repaved downtown sidewalks and roadways.

ECI was back in town to complete work on a waterline between the Marble Works and the Battell Fire Station on Seymour Street. That work left some Marble Works buildings without water for much of Monday afternoon and so I want to thank the folks at Noonie’s, Round Robin, Junebug, Stone Leaf Teahouse, and others for their patience.

The Maine drilling crew will be working in the rail corridor this Saturday and next Saturday between 7 AM and 5 PM in order to complete their work before year’s end.

Next week Kubricky will wrap up its work in the Town’s Stump Dump. That will be good news for those who live on Seymour Street and who have learned to fall asleep to the sound of truck traffic outside their window.

ECI will do some water and sewer work in the area around County Tire next week and then begin installing sheeting—yet one more form of stabilizing rail corridor slopes—north of the Main Street Bridge. The crane for that operation is already in place in front of Junebug. I’ll talk more about sheeting next week.

Holiday Hours

All construction activity will cease by noon on Christmas Eve (I doubt that much work will take place that morning) and resume on Thursday, January 2. As was the case last year, work will continue into January and I’ll have an update on that once 2020 rolls in.

Goings On Around Town

Still mulling over what to get someone on your Christmas list? Sue Hoxie delivers a wealth of ideas for gifts you can buy right here in Middlebury no matter who you’re shopping for. Check out her informative blog on the Better Middlebury Partnership’s Experience Middlebury website here.

What would a Middlebury Christmas be without the holiday model train exhibit at the Sheldon Museum? That’s a must see for kids of all ages. You can read about what’s new this year and check out the holiday schedule here.

Finally, you might find it interesting to learn more about research that students and staff at Middlebury College’s Mittelman Observatory are doing to understand our community’s awareness of and concerns about dark skies, light pollution, and the environment. To find out more about their work and to take the 2019 Middlebury Dark Sky Survey, click 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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