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2020 Update #17

The Latest on the Construction Shutdown

Let’s start our weekly construction update with a small but important piece of good news.

Fort Miller—the Schuylerville NY-based precast concrete plant—continues to operate during Vermont’s construction shutdown.

As of this past Friday, April 10, the Fort Miller plant had fabricated some 323 of the 422 precast pieces needed to construct our new downtown tunnel and adjoining rail abutments.

While delivery to the Fifield Farm south marshaling yard remains on hold in accordance with Governor Scott’s executive order, it’s reassuring to note that this critically important part of the project continues to move forward.

Update on Efforts to Restart Construction

At Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Middlebury Selectboard, Chair Brian Carpenter brought the community up to date on the Town’s efforts to restart downtown construction.

Last week the Selectboard endorsed a letter from Brian requesting that the Governor classify Middlebury’s Rail & Bridge Project as a critical infrastructure project, a status that would allow the project to restart under the Governor’s executive order— provided a new health and safety plan is implemented that meets the rigorous requirements of working during this public health crisis.

Some of the measures of that plan would include meeting virtually vs. in-person wherever practical, limiting on-site visitors, wiping down equipment at specified intervals, requiring gloves at all times, and requiring additional PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for work activities in which social distance cannot be maintained.

Kubricky signed a letter accompanying Brian’s committing to meet those requirements.

Kubricky and its subcontractors also agreed to meet a requirement of the Governor’s that construction crew coming from out of state to work on a Vermont project stay in Vermont.

In practical terms, this means that the New York-based construction crew—many of whom live across the lake in Essex County—will be required to stay in Vermont for a 14-day rotation, at least in the initial stages of work, to minimize exposure to the virus. Workers will stay at area hotels, one to a room, and local restaurants will deliver their meals to the construction site.

Vermont Rail submitted a similar letter of endorsement as did Neighbors Together on behalf of the community.

That entire packet went through the VTrans project management team to the Secretary of Transportation, who delivered it to the Governor last Friday morning, shortly before the Governor’s press conference announcing an extension of the Stay At Home executive order through May 15.

Brian wrapped up the project update by saying that he, like many of us who want to see this project done, remains hopeful that as the Governor begins to “open the spigot” and lift current restrictions, Middlebury’s will be one of the first projects to reopen.

When that happens, you will be the first to know.

Looking Ahead

While we’ve lost time on construction work that would have been completed by now and the May 27 shutdown start date will have to move out as a result, we’re hopeful that we can make up ground once we get the green light.

Until we get that green light, it’s premature to speculate on a new shutdown start and end date.

In the meantime, while silence prevails in the construction zone, there is plenty of activity taking place at remote desks and over Zoom.

While the temporary suspension of construction projects statewide remains in effect, the Middlebury project team has continued to advance all of the administrative and planning efforts that support construction.

Once the temporary suspension of work is lifted, the team is prepared to resume construction immediately and in a way that is safe for both project staff and the community.

Once the decision is made to resume work, we expect that VTrans, Kubricky, and ECI will be able to mobilize on site within a day or two, with Maine D&B following shortly thereafter.

Festival on the Green Reluctantly Cancels This Year’s Event

It’s been a real pleasure during the past four years to get to know the fabulous folks who each year mark our early summer with music and celebration by bringing us Festival on the Green.

It’s one measure of the far-reaching implications of this virus that the Festival organizers feel they need to cancel this year’s event, which was to be held at the Middlebury Rec Park.

The following is the announcement made earlier this week by Richard Ruane, President of Festival on the Green.

“The board and the directors of the Middlebury Festival on the Green have decided to cancel this year’s Festival. It was not an easy decision to make but we believe it is the right one.

The peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Vermont should be over by the beginning of July, but the virus will still be an active health threat to those at risk in our community.

We also considered the economic reality of our Middlebury businesses and community, already stressed by the Downtown Bridge Replacement and Rail Line Improvement Project and now facing a very heavy blow from the pandemic.

We felt it wasn’t right to send out an appeal for donations at this time, and it would especially be wrong to ask the hard-hit restaurants and hotels that have supported us previously to do so again this year.

We understand the value of the arts to our community and the place the Festival has in the hearts of so many people here in Addison County. We seriously thought having the Festival this summer could be an opportunity to celebrate together. But in the end, we felt the risks and uncertainty were too great.”

Planning is already underway for an exceptional 2021 Festival on the Green, one that will take place in the center of a newly rebuilt downtown that is finally free of construction.

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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