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2020 Update #7

Winter Work, WinterFest, Winter Reading

The Highlights

  • Status quo on the work front

  • Celebrate WinterFest on Sunday

First things first: Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s to a good day for you and your loved ones.

Ice, snow, and the freeze/thaw cycle notwithstanding, construction work continued this week in the rail corridor and out at Fifield Farm. We’ll do a quick wrap and then preview Sunday’s big WinterFest celebration at the Middlebury Rec Park plus one of our favorite mid-winter sales downtown.

Your Weekly Construction Update

At the north end of the project in the Marble Works, ECI made halting progress installing steel sheet piles this week. They were hampered in turn by weather, train schedules, and the unexpected discovery of a stone retaining wall beneath and to one side of the rail corridor.

As the week draws to a close, work has progressed to about 100 feet south of Willard Street, the one-block road that runs from the rail line up to Maple Street and the back entrance to the Marble Works.

You may remember that the sheet piles, which are being installed to stabilize the rail slopes in the northern section of the project, will be installed up to the old at-grade rail crossing just south of County Tire on Seymour Street.

Between the two downtown bridges, as shown in the photograph below, Kubricky continues to excavate and install timber lagging at the site of the new manhole structure below St. Stephen’s. This work will continue next week as Kubricky is now 13 feet beneath the current track surface on its way to a depth of 20 feet.

We’ve talked quite a bit recently about the construction staging areas on Fifield Farm just west of town on Route 30. Kubricky has now completed work on the southern side of the road, which as you know by now will become the staging area for some 400 pieces of precast concrete that will form the new downtown tunnel and rail abutments.

The precast concrete will begin to be trucked in from Fort Miller’s fabrication plant near Saratoga NY starting in early April. Kubricky expects that we will see about six trucks a day. I’ll have more info on this game plan as April approaches.

On the north side of the road, where Kubricky will temporarily store soil excavated from the rail corridor, Kubricky has completed building a gravel roadway and turnaround. So things will go quiet on this front for a while.

As I mentioned last week, VTrans expects to temporarily reduce the speed limit on Route 30 through the Fifield Farm area by 10-15 miles per hour.

Kubricky and ECI will both work on Monday, President’s Day.

Celebrating Winter

The same folks who brought you the wonderfully successful Very Merry Middlebury events in December return on Sunday with their midwinter celebration, WinterFest.

Organized by the Better Middlebury Partnership, WinterFest will take place this Sunday, February 16, at the Middlebury Rec Park—that’s the one between the Teen Center and Memorial Sports Center next to Mary Hogan—between 11 AM and 3 PM.

The event is free and open to the public and chock full of fun stuff: a snow sculpture contest between local businesses and organizations, a photo booth, a chili cook-off between businesses, horse and wagon rides, hot cocoa, a s’mores station, games and activities, digging for gems, and a small sledding hill (bring a sled!).

The photo below, taken by ace photographer Jason Duquette-Hoffman, shows Carpenter and Costin’s entry in the snow sculpture contest at last year’s WinterFest.

And you can continue the WinterFest fun at Memorial Sports Center on Monday, February 17, with a free community skate from 10 AM to Noon (rentals available).

The weather will warm again by Sunday so head on over and celebrate winter with friends and family!

Thank you to Addison County Home Health & Hospice and to Carpenter and Costin for sponsoring this event. For more information, visit

Winter Book Sale

Need a good book to curl up with next to the wood stove? Friday is the day you’ve been waiting for.

Valentine’s Day marks the start of the Otter Creek Used Books 7th annual “I Hate February” Book Sale. All books are 50% off. Mysteries are the read du jour in our house and I can tell you from first-hand experience that Otter Creek Used Books has shelf after shelf of good mysteries and a whole lot else besides.

Otter Creek Used Books is located in the Marble Works, “sandwiched” between Costello’s and Otter Creek Yoga. Hours are 10 AM – 5 PM, Monday – Saturday. When you go, make time for a book chat with proprietor and book lover Barbara Harding.

And speaking of good reads, Chris Bohjalian’s latest, The Red Lotus, described as a “twisting tail of love and deceit,” arrives March 17 and is available for pre-order now at the Vermont Book Shop downtown. While you’re there, you can pick up a book or two from their new releases table and you’ll be all set whatever winter sends our way. Or order online 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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