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2020 Update #8

First Look at the Tunnel, Ode to Harriet

The Highlights

  • Fabrication of tunnel reaches mid-point

  • Winter work continues

Just southeast of the confluence of the Batten Kill and Hudson rivers, on NY Route 29 midway between Schuylerville and Greenwich, Fort Miller’s precast concrete plant is in full swing fabricating the 422 pieces that will eventually make their way to Middlebury to form our new downtown tunnel and adjoining rail line abutments.

To date, Fort Miller has fabricated some 200 pieces. The photo below shows two of the “u walls” that were “dry fitted” together during a recent inspection by VTrans and Kubricky.

Each of these "TPs" (construction lingo for tunnel pieces), which were set on their sides for the dry fitting test, weighs some 40 tons. That’s right, 80,000 pounds. A 300-ton crane will be assembled downtown in April and sit in Triangle Park to pick the precast concrete pieces off of flatbed trucks and swing them into place. That will be a sight to see.

As I mentioned last week, the first precast pieces will start arriving at the Fifield Farm staging area in April.

Your Weekly Construction Update

Not much change in what I’ve been reporting since we turned the calendar to 2020.

At the north end of the project in the Marble Works, ECI continued to make slow but steady progress installing steel sheet piles this week. At the current pace, the work will probably continue for the next two-three weeks before wrapping up just south of County Tire on Seymour Street.

Between the two downtown bridges, Kubricky continues to excavate and install timber lagging at the site of the new manhole structure below St. Stephen’s. This week Kubricky brought in a grinder to work through some of the glacial till they have encountered some 15 feet below the track surface.

Fifield Farm was quiet this week though Kubricky expects to resume installing orange snow fence on both sides of the road to mark the perimeter of the staging areas and to lay down fabric on the north side in preparation for the arrival of the soil excavated from the rail corridor in May and June.

Celebrating Harriet Tubman

A good movie can lift the spirits and maybe especially so on these winter days.

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival continues its popular MNFF Selects film screening series on Sunday, February 23, with the historical drama Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of the heroic Harriet Tubman. The film will screen at 2 PM at Town Hall Theater.

Director Kasi Lemmons’ film tells the remarkable story of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and her astonishing transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes, one whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad and whose journey continues to inspire some 150 years later.

The film will be introduced by William Hart, Professor of History at Middlebury College, who will also lead a discussion of Harriet following the screening.

Tickets are $15 at the door and can also be purchased at the MNFF website.

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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