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2020 Update #2

Winter Work Continues, Looking Ahead to Summer


  • Key dates for your 2020 calendar

  • Maine wraps up, ECI ramps up

Now that 2020 has arrived, I thought I would begin this week’s update with a recap of the key construction dates that will mark our summer.

Monday, May 4 – Thursday, May 21

Merchants Row is closed to thru traffic and the temporary bridge removed. Parking impacted in both the upper and lower stretches of Merchants Row.

The Battell driveway is closed. Access to the parking lot is via the temporary access road running north from Water Street along Otter Creek.

Sidewalk access to all Merchants Row buildings remains open but the sidewalk connecting Town Hall Theater to the Battell Block is closed at the rail corridor, requiring a walking detour through the Town Green.

No construction during Memorial Day weekend, Middlebury’s Memorial Day Parade, and the Middlebury College graduation.

Hours of operation are 7 AM – 5 PM, Monday – Friday.

Wednesday, May 27 – Wednesday, August 5

The downtown rail corridor is shut down for 10 weeks as Vermont Rail freight is detoured up the eastern side of the state.

Main Street is closed to traffic (except delivery and emergency services vehicles) from Bakery Lane/Mill Street to Seymour Street. Eleven parking spaces remain open in front of the Post Office.

The Main Street temporary bridge is removed, as is the wooden footbridge over the rail corridor, and Printer’s Alley is closed to pedestrians. Work takes place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sidewalk access to all Main Street buildings remains open but the sidewalk connecting the P.O. to the National Bank is closed at the rail corridor, requiring a walking detour through the Marble Works or across Cross Street Bridge. An ACTR shuttle connects the Marble Works to the intersection of Main Street and Merchants Row.

The rail corridor is excavated and rebuilt and the two downtown bridges replaced with a tunnel. Main Street and Merchants Row reopen and all downtown parking is restored.

A lot of construction activity will precede the closing of Merchants Row and a lot will follow the reopening of our downtown roadways but the key construction this year will take place during these three months.

I’ll be sharing much more construction detail in the coming weeks along with the plans for managing the impact on our town developed by Neighbors Together and the Better Middlebury Partnership, VTrans, and the Town of Middlebury.

Like last year, a public meeting will take place in early April to review the summer construction plan in detail and respond to questions and concerns from the community.

You don’t have to wait until April, though. If you have a question or concern now, get in touch and I’ll look into it.

Your Weekly Construction Update

This week the Maine Drilling & Blasting team completed five months of drilling minipiles and tiebacks to stabilize the rail slopes and began demobilizing its equipment. They will return later this Spring to drill additional minipiles. A second Maine team will be testing the tiebacks installed next week.

ECI continued installing sheet piles in the rail corridor behind the Seymour Street fire station. To date, ECI has installed about 100 feet of a projected 1400 feet of steel sheeting designed to hold the rail abutments in place when the north end of the rail corridor is excavated in June.

As I mentioned last week, this work is taking place on both sides of the rail corridor between Junebug and just south of County Tire and is expected to last through the end of February. This week’s winter weather slowed the operation somewhat.

The photograph below shows the vibratory hammer, suspended from a crane, preparing to drive a steel sheet into the ground.

Kubricky will spend the next few weeks excavating and lagging two locations between the bridges that are the site of additional components of the new downtown drainage system built last year. The photograph below shows Kubricky at work on one of the two sites, on the slope next to St. Stephen’s. You can also see an example of timber lagging at the foot of the slope.

Meanwhile, 75 miles south of Middlebury in Schuylerville NY, the Fort Miller Company has begun fabricating the precast concrete that will form our new tunnel and the abutments for the rail corridor.

To date, Fort Miller—a privately held, family-owned company founded in 1939 in Fort Miller, NY—has produced some 35 of the nearly 400 pieces of precast concrete that will be set in place downtown.

The precast concrete will be stored temporarily at the Fifield Farm on Route 30 in Middlebury starting later this Spring.

Goings On Around Town

This Sunday, January 12, the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival presents the fourth of eight films in its MNFF Selects film screening series. This year’s theme—to date films have profiled Miles Davis, David Crosby, and Aretha Franklin—is “fabulous films about fascinating people.”

Colette, starring Keira Knightly, portrays the remarkable life of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a woman who pushed the boundaries of established cultural norms in late 19th and early 20th century France.

A prolific author whose popular early novels were published under her first husband’s name and to whose considerable earnings she had no access, Colette eventually claimed her rightful place as a prominent woman of letters, culminating in a 1948 nomination for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The film gets underway Sunday at 2 PM at Town Hall Theater. Tickets are $15 at the door and can be purchased online as well. More information on tickets and MNFF Selects can be found 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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