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2020 Update #25

Pace Picks Up in Downtown Construction

The Highlights

  • Merchants Row to close to thru traffic for the summer starting Tuesday

  • Merchants Row Bridge to be removed on Thursday

  • Main Street again reduced to one lane downtown next week

  • Pedestrian Alert: Footbridge and Printer’s Alley to close at times next week

The State of Vermont’s easing of restrictions on construction crew size, which I reported on earlier in the week, immediately yielded a busy week for the downtown construction project.

Individual work crews currently are limited to 10 workers and those crews must operate at least 50 feet from one another but that was enough to restart all aspects of the project that need to be completed before the 10-week shutdown.

Kubricky and VTrans are finalizing their timeline for the shutdown and we should know those dates soon.

Work this week will stop at noon on Friday and then resume next Tuesday following Memorial Day weekend. Then things will get even busier. Let’s get to the details.

Your Weekly Construction Update

As you noticed if you were walking or driving downtown this week, Maine Drilling & Blasting installed eight minipiles on the south side of the Main Street Bridge in a line extending from the entrance to the National Bank’s Duclos Building across Main Street to Triangle Park.

As I mentioned last week, Maine then shifted the drilling operation to the north side of Main Street Bridge, where they will install 18 minipiles in two parallel lines extending from the sidewalk in front of the Post Office to the Main Street center line.

The purpose of these minipiles is to support the cranes that will be operating downtown to pick and place the precast concrete sections of the new downtown tunnel.

To accomplish this work safely and as quickly as possible, Main Street will continue to be limited to one lane of traffic through the end of next week. The location and nature of the work will require Kubricky to cordon off parking on the Post Office side of Main Street between the crosswalk and the footbridge.

Our well-traveled footbridge will be closed for a day or two next week as three minipiles are installed at its north end. Pedestrians walking from one side of the Main Street Bridge to the other will be asked to detour through the Town Green when the footbridge is closed. And please do not attempt to walk across the Main Street Bridge itself. I’ve said this before and I saw it up close again this week: you do NOT want to be on that bridge at the same time as a tanker truck. It’s truly dangerous.

At the same time next week, Naylor & Breen and DeBisschop Excavating, which have been reconstructing the National Bank’s back parking lot in a separate project, will close Printer’s Alley for two or three days while they install a natural gas line for future use of the Bank.

Thank you for your patience with these disruptions. They bring us one step closer to the finish line.

Calling All Kids: Merchants Row Bridge To Go on Thursday

Next week we’ll begin to get a better sense of the impact of this summer’s construction when Kubricky removes the Merchants Row Bridge. This temporary bridge has been in place since Summer 2017 and has done its job. Now it’s time for it to go.

Starting Tuesday morning, Kubricky will close the Merchants Row Bridge to thru traffic and begin preparing for its removal by stripping the asphalt and then removing the pedestrian walkway, guard rails, and deck panels.

Then on Thursday a 275-ton crane sitting on the Town Hall Theater side of the rail corridor will remove the temporary bridge and send it back to its home in VTrans’s Middlesex VT yard.

If anyone in your family gets excited about construction, this will be an activity to watch. Best place to observe will be from the walkway alongside of St. Stephen’s.

Once the bridge is removed, Merchants Row will be closed to thru traffic through the 10-week shutdown. Parking will still be available until the shutdown in front of the Battell Block on Merchants Row, though it may be limited by active construction. Sabai Sabai remains open and available for curbside service.

The sidewalk in front of the Battell Block will remain at all times though walking between Town Hall Theater and Battell will now require a detour through the Town Green.

And There’s More

Two Kubricky crews have been working in the rail corridor all week. One is removing the ashlar blocks from the Battell side of the rail corridor and installing timber lagging against the minipiles that were drilled in place last year. This group is working four feet down at a time and will eventually lag down to track level. You can see that operation in progress in the photo below.

A second crew is working between the bridges to install a drainage structure on the Battell side of the rail corridor and then connect that structure to our old friend from 2018, Pit 2, which sits just below and to the side of the Main Street Bridge.

Both of these crews will continue working on these projects in the coming weeks.

Also next week Lafayette will be in town to install dozens of signs marking detour routes during the 10-week shutdown as well as changes to local roadways approved by the Selectboard. Those signs will then be covered until the shutdown begins. Lafayette’s work will take place through June 3.

ECI is expected to be back driving steel sheets on the north end of the project the first week of June.

Finally, Fort Miller resumed delivery of precast concrete to the Fifield south marshaling yard on Monday. To date, approximately 80 of 422 pieces have arrived in preparation for the 10-week shutdown.

In the photo below, the crane located at Fifield is in the process of rotating a 40-ton piece of concrete from the horizontal, which is how it’s delivered on a flatbed truck, to the vertical, which is how it’s stored and will be transported into town later this summer.

That’s a lot to process! The only thing left is to wish you and yours a refreshing holiday weekend as we turn the corner toward summer and the completion of this central phase of the construction project.

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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