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2020 Update #15

Behind the Scenes of a Quiet Construction Zone

This week an unaccustomed stillness descended on the downtown construction zone, the site of so much activity during the past three years.

As you’ll recall, last week Vermont’s Secretary of Transportation, in accordance with Governor Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, ordered the temporary shutdown of virtually all construction projects in Vermont until April 15.

But while downtown went quiet, extensive discussions were taking place between Town officials and executive management at the AOT, Kubricky, and Vermont Rail, with one objective in mind: how and when we could get Middlebury’s project back up and running.

These conversations, of course, were taking place during a week in which the grim news from around the world and around the country was creating a climate of intense concern over the health of our communities.

By Thursday, mindful of the economic consequences to Middlebury of a lengthy project delay, the Middlebury Selectboard had asked the State to designate the Rail & Bridge Project as “critical infrastructure” and to allow the project to resume operations—provided that Kubricky, its subcontractors, Vermont Rail, and the AOT put in place and rigorously monitored the highest possible standards of protection for construction contractors, rail crews, and for our community.

The formal request, submitted to the Secretary of Transportation for consideration by the Governor’s Office, is supported by letters from Kubricky and Vermont Rail detailing the steps each would take to manage the health risks of resuming construction. Our friends at Neighbors Together lent their voice to the request as well.

As we’ve seen on both the world stage and here in Vermont, there is no easy solution to balancing the economic consequences of a shutdown with the urgent need to flatten the curve of the virus.

I’ll keep you fully up to date as this process unfolds and as decisions get made.

Walking the Site

Every day or two I walk the entire construction site while things are shut down to ensure that there are no safety issues. If you see something that concerns you or you believe to be an issue, please let me know.

Thank You's

Have you been reading Police Chief Hanley’s daily Emergency Management Bulletins? They are a good daily read, distilling all information coming our way—as well as the disinformation—into a very readable and concise summary, complete with Tom’s reassuring way of looking at the world. Highly recommended. You can read the bulletins and get the full view of what’s going on in Middlebury and statewide at a special page on the Town’s website that you can access here.

How fortunate are we to have a medical center right here in Middlebury? As Chief Hanley mentioned in his bulletin yesterday, Porter staff—doctors, nurses, and all those who are providing support so health care workers can do their jobs—are due our gratitude. If you’d like to express your support, Porter has set up an online link that you can access here.

We all still need to eat, so grocery shopping remains a must. Before closing out for the week, I wanted to thank all those working the front lines at Hannaford, Shaw’s, the Co-Op, and Greg’s to keep the stores open and the shelves stocked.

That’s all for today. See you soon.

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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