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2020 Update #26

One Bridge Out, One To Go

The Highlights

  • Merchants Row: Temporary bridge removed, street now closed to thru traffic

  • Main Street: Normal two-lane traffic resumes next week

  • Pedestrian Alert: Main Street footbridge and Printer’s Alley reopen, Merchants Row sidewalk now closed at rail corridor

Thursday marked a major milestone in our downtown construction project,

Early Thursday a 275-ton hydraulic crane moved into the upper stretch of Merchants Row. By late morning, as many gathered to watch from nearby sidewalks and the Town Green, the Kubricky crew had lifted from its concrete abutments the temporary bridge that has carried pedestrians and motorists across Merchants Row since August 2017 and gently set it down alongside the Bourdon Insurance building.

There it will sit until it is dismantled and trucked back to VTrans’s Middlesex yard in the coming weeks.

The next time you drive up Merchants Row—remember, it will now be one way going up the hill—you’ll be driving over a brand-new bridge.

Next up is the Main Street Bridge and that temporary structure will be removed in the first few days of the 10-day shutdown. VTrans expects to inform the Town of the starting date for the shutdown in early June.

Removing the Merchants Row temporary bridge now gives Kubricky access to the rail abutments underneath the bridge structure and to the critical support of excavation work that must be in place below the bridge area before the 10-week shutdown.

Parking is still 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 open at all times though walking between Town Hall Theater and Battell will now require a detour through the Town Green.

Let’s look at what else we accomplished this week to move this project forward to completion.

Your Weekly Construction Update

As planned, Maine Drilling & Blasting shifted its drilling operation to the north side of the Main Street Bridge late last week. This week the Maine crew installed 18 minipiles in two parallel lines extending from the sidewalk in front of the Post Office to the Main Street center line.

Again, the purpose of the minipiles on both sides of the Main Street Bridge and in Merchants Row is to support the cranes that will be operating downtown to pick and place the precast concrete sections of the new downtown tunnel. Average weight of those pieces is 40 tons.

For a second straight week Main Street was limited at the bridge to one lane of traffic in the northbound lane. Getting the work done safely meant taking the parking on the Post Office side of Main Street between the crosswalk and the footbridge and at times closing the footbridge.

With the Merchants Row Bridge closed early Tuesday morning and the footbridge closed for drilling, it became necessary to send pedestrians walking between the Post Office and the National Bank over the closed southbound lane of the Main Street Bridge. Flaggers managed a fairly light traffic week and one of the Kubricky crew was assigned the job of ensuring that pedestrians crossed the bridge safely.

On Friday, Maine will grout the minipiles as traffic is again limited to one lane. Starting Monday Main Street reverts to normal traffic flow.

Next week, the Maine crew will be back down in the rail corridor drilling tiebacks, which you probably recall are one of the elements of the support of excavation work designed to stabilize the rail slopes.

Kubricky will be installing tie rods in Merchants Row between the parallel lines of minipiles installed across the roadway. These 1-3/4” diameter threaded steel rods provide further support for the crane that will be operating in Merchants Row by tying together the two lines of minipiles.

This activity will involve excavating down about five feet in Merchants Row in the area in front of the former coffee house.

Kubricky will also be hammering and grinding its way through ledge between the bridges to install a drainage pipe that will connect the new drainage structure we’ve covered in previous updates to Pit 2. The pipe will sit 20 feet below track level and run approximately 80 feet in length. The photo below shows a grinder testing its ability to work through the ledge.

Out at the Fifield south marshaling yard, Hulett Trucking out of West Pawlet VT continued hauling precast from Fort Miller’s Schuylerville NY plant. To date, some 110 of 422 pieces have arrived in preparation for the 10-week shutdown.

You may have noticed Lafayette, accompanied by the Addison County Sheriff’s Dept, installing dozens of signs marking detour routes during the 10-week shutdown as well as some temporary changes to local roadways. As I mentioned last week, those signs will then be covered until the shutdown begins. Lafayette’s work continues next week.

Also, our friends from ECI will be back next week driving steel sheets on the north end of the project. It should take about two weeks to finish up that job.

Before we close out, I wanted to update you on two other downtown projects.

Naylor & Breen and DeBisschop Excavating completed their work installing a natural gas line for future use by the National Bank in Printer’s Alley. The alley, which had been closed to pedestrians on Tuesday, was reopened on schedule Thursday afternoon.

And Silver Maple Construction is mobilizing a boom lift into town on Friday morning and will begin work Monday restoring the St. Stephen’s bell tower. That project will go through the month of June.

This week it was mid-summer. Next week Spring arrives again. No matter the weather work continues as we push this project forward to better days for Middlebury.

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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