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2020 Update #1

Back To Work

The Highlights

  • Maine D&B working this weekend

  • Running down the winter work schedule

I hope you thoroughly enjoyed your time during the holidays, whether you were celebrating with family and friends or just taking advantage of some quiet downtime as the year drew to a close.

This year promises to be a momentous one for our downtown. I’ll be keeping you up to date every step of the way. And if you’re in the business of making New Year’s resolutions, I would encourage you to put “Shop Local” high on that list. We’ve opened another 5 parking spots alongside Triangle Park on Main Street so come on downtown!

Your Weekly Construction Update

Having completed drilling some 300-plus minipiles before the holidays, Maine Drilling & Blasting is now focusing on drilling a final set of tiebacks in the rail corridor on either side of the Merchants Row Bridge.

That work must be completed by Monday, January 6, and so Maine will be working this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Late next week, Vermont Rail will revert to its normal schedule of sending northbound and southbound trains through Middlebury during the day, though some night work will continue to take place in the Middlebury railyard.

On Thursday, ECI began installing sheet piles, yet another method of stabilizing the rail slopes. This work will be taking place on both sides of the rail corridor between Junebug and County Tire and is expected to last through the end of February.

In the photograph below, taken Thursday, you can see the vibratory hammer, suspended from a crane, preparing to drive a steel column into the ground to create a starting point for the sheeting project. If you’re interested in watching this process in action, come on down to the Marble Works.

For its part, Kubricky will be installing timber lagging between the minipiles behind the Bourdon building and just north of the Merchants Row Bridge. This work will continue for the next 4-6 weeks.

Kubricky will also be preparing fields at Fifield Farm (just south of the College golf course on Route 30) to stage precast concrete for the project and to temporarily store soil excavated this summer from the rail line.

So, as last year, work will continue well into winter as we prepare for this summer’s replacement of the Merchants Row and Main Street bridges and the reconstruction of the downtown rail line.

Goings On Around Town

Did you get a chance over the holidays to see this year’s Sheldon Museum’s model train display? There’s still time. The exhibit closes Saturday, January 11, and before that the Sheldon is sponsoring two interesting train-related talks.

On Saturday, January 4, at 11 AM, Paul Bortz, a member of the Sheldon Museum's train crew, will present a brief hands-on talk, demonstration, and discussion entitled "The History of Lionel Toy Trains and Others." An enthusiastic collector and model train operator, Paul specializes in the history of toy trains. Anyone interested in bringing in their trains for identification is encouraged to do so.

Then on Thursday, January 9 at noon, Danielle Rougeau, President of the Henry Sheldon board and Middlebury College Archivist, will use the Sheldon's photo of the Otter Creek train trestle collapse of 1893 to talk about the town, the train industry, and the forces that shape the story behind that photographic moment.

The fee for each talk is $5, which includes Museum admission. More info here.

Bundle @ 51 Main, our innovative downtown pop-up storefront, turns the corner into 2020 with a full slate of workshops and special events for January.

There’s something for everyone this month: creative writing workshops for women and for teens, a trivia night fundraiser for an upcoming MUHS Earth Watch trip to Costa Rica, a wellness workshop, a roundtable discussion on how to draw on local resources to start and build your own business, a community storytelling event, and an update on a local pollinator project supported by Bee The Change and Middlebury Underground. Broaden your horizons while supporting your community. 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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