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2020 Update #11

New Priorities, Work Goes On

The Highlights

  • Battell driveway to close Monday, March 23

  • Another piece of the new downtown drainage system in place

Middlebury’s downtown construction project took a back seat to more pressing concerns this week as the unsettling news of COVID-19’s rapid global advance hit home locally.

As you no doubt know by now, on Tuesday Middlebury College announced that students are required to leave campus by Sunday and that classes will shift to remote instruction starting March 30 for the foreseeable future.

You can read the full text of President Laurie Patton’s email to the college community here.

This difficult decision is no doubt taken in the best interests of the health of our community.

The economic well-being of our community, however, will take a decided hit just as we step into the most disruptive phase of downtown construction. Unlike the methodical preparation that goes into planning a construction project, this one we as a community are going to have to figure out on the fly.

On the project front, VTrans and Kubricky both feel that they have the robustness of staff to replace any members of the project management team and construction crew that may contract the virus. All plans and schedules that we have been discussing for many months remain in place.

Your Weekly Construction Update

This week Kubricky completed excavating what in construction lingo is being referred to as “DMH-209”—that’s the 20-foot-deep stormwater manhole that sits between the bridges on the St. Stephen’s side of the rail corridor (DMH = drainage manhole).

Mid-week Kubricky set stone fill at the bottom of DMH-209 and then began installing the multiple pieces of precast concrete manufactured by SD Ireland that make up the manhole structure. The photograph below shows the base in place and two “risers” that bring the structure up close to track level.

Next week Kubricky will move to the other side of the rail track to continue excavating DMH-209’s twin, DMH-210.

Related to this activity, you may have heard a familiar sound downtown on Thursday. Maine Drilling & Blasting is back in town line drilling ledge between the two bridges to prepare for blasting a small area in which a new drainage line will be located. (The blast isn’t yet scheduled.)

If you’re trying to visualize how all this will work, stormwater will flow from the Town Green into DMH-209, underneath the rail corridor to DMH-210, down drainage line 212 (see above), and from there to our old friends from 2018: Receiving Pit 2 and the Launch Pit.

Further south at Fifield Farm, the first pieces of precast concrete are scheduled to start arriving on Monday, March 23. On Thursday, Kubricky began assembling a 200-ton crane at the southern staging area in preparation for their arrival. An estimated six pieces a day will be delivered individually on 30-foot-long flatbed trucks.

In other news, VTrans cleared out the Bourdon Building this week in preparation for moving its inspection staff into the building.

And at the north end of the project in the Marble Works, ECI continues to make slow progress driving those steel sheets into the ground. As of Thursday afternoon, they are directly across from Rice restaurant on Seymour Street.

The Scenic Route

Looking ahead, on Monday, March 23, Kubricky will close the Battell driveway for the duration of this summer’s construction. (It will reopen, with Main Street and Merchants Row, on Wednesday, August 5.)

All traffic—as has been the case several times already recently—will access the Battell parking lot via the temporary access road that runs north from Water Street alongside Otter Creek. Next week Kubricky will regrade the 11-foot-wide roadway and lay down a gravel base in preparation for vehicular use.

Three-foot-high concrete barriers will be placed along the river side of the temporary access road. On the rail side, Kubricky will place orange barrels with flashing lights. Lafayette will be in town next week to set up traffic signs and the traffic lights that will control one-way traffic on the roadway.

The purpose of closing the Battell driveway at this stage of construction is to allow Kubricky to remove the ashlar blocks on the Battell side of the rail corridor up to the Merchants Row Bridge in order to get a leg up on all the work that scheduled to take place during the 10-week closure.

Those Traffic Control Plans

Reading the past two weekly updates, you may have found yourself wondering, “Why did Jim provide us with Traffic Control Plans for Franklin Street and Central Downtown that are illegible?”

As it turns out, converting PDFs to JPEGs has its disadvantages.

Here are readable versions of the traffic control plan for Franklin Street and for Central Downtown.

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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