How the 10-week closure of Main Street will impact motorists and bicyclists
Final Reminder to attend Virtual Public Meeting Wednesday, July 8, at 7 PM
Before we look at getting around downtown by car, truck, or bicycle during the next 10 weeks, I wanted to follow up briefly on yesterday’s review of pedestrian impacts.
To help you visualize getting around town this summer, we’ve created a “mobility map” that illustrates walking and driving detours, parking availability, and the free continuous-loop shuttle service route that we discussed yesterday.
You can view that map here. We’ll also be posting it at various locations around town. (One small change: because of public health concerns there will be no information booth as planned in Cannon Park.)
Also, I wanted to mention that several people have told me they plan to take advantage of the sidewalk detours downtown to start a new walking regimen—or extend a current one—during the 10-week shutdown.
I’m told by reliable experts that the walk from the Post Office to the Town Offices via Cross Street Bridge is just four-tenths of a mile (with a great view from the bridge). And that it’s seven-tenths of a mile from the Post Office to Main Street if you take the “long route” up Seymour Street, into the Marble Works and Riverfront Park, and across the pedestrian bridge over Otter Creek. At a fairly leisurely pace, four-tenths of a mile would take you about 10 minutes to walk. Not for everyone but you may want to consider.
Now let’s turn our attention to how motorists and bicyclists who share the road will be getting around town during the next 10 weeks.
Before we start, here's the 10-second version of what lies ahead: 1) become familiar with the detour signs that will go up around town early Monday morning, 2) leave yourself extra time for getting around town, and 3) this will all be over before the first maple leaves turn. Now the details!
Main Street: What’s Open, What’s Closed
As I mentioned yesterday, one of the first orders of business next Monday will be the removal of the Main Street Bridge. Before that takes place, early Monday morning Main Street will be closed to thru traffic for the full 10 weeks. Let’s go over what that means.
On the south end, Main Street will be closed just past the entrance to Bakery Lane and Mill Street. You’ll be able to drive north from the roundabout to those two side roads, which remain open for local businesses and to facilitate downtown parking in the municipal lot behind Ilsley Library and in the Mill Street lot down alongside Otter Creek.
Beyond this point, the only vehicles allowed on Main Street, apart from those involved in construction, will be emergency services vehicles, local deliveries, and The Shuttlebury. As I mentioned yesterday, sidewalks remain open right up to the rail corridor on both sides of Main Street and all buildings will be accessible.
At the other end, Main Street will be closed at its intersection with Seymour Street except that a few parking spaces have been set aside in front of the Post Office. We’ll talk more about that when we cover downtown parking.
To complete our coverage of Main Street, the short section of the road at the very northern end between Seymour Street and North Pleasant Street/Route 7 will also be closed. You won’t be able to make that right-hand turn onto Main Street at the Congregational Church.
Signs all over town will be uncovered next Monday to direct motorists through the detour.
Where We Can Expect Traffic Bottlenecks
With Main Street closed to thru traffic, Cross Street will take the majority of our cross-town traffic. Although traffic is somewhat lighter than would ordinarily be the case during summer, it can still build up downtown during rush hour so please plan to leave additional time when going to work or running errands downtown.
Another busy street is likely to be Seymour Street since that carries commercial traffic from Exchange Street headed south and west.
Adding to the congestion on our downtown roadways will be a high volume of construction vehicles, particularly during the first six weeks of this phase of construction.
For the first two weeks, dump trucks will be hauling excavated soil around the clock from the rail corridor onto Seymour Street and Water Street and from those points onto Cross Street Bridge and eventually the Fifield Farm marshaling yard.
For the following three weeks, precast concrete will be trucked into downtown from Fifield Farm down South Main Street and around the roundabout. That, too, is a 24/7 operation.
Flaggers and uniformed traffic officers will help direct traffic but inevitably there will be delays. Thank you for your patience.
Finally, if you choose to take Pulp Mill Bridge to make your way across town, please be mindful of the narrowness of its travel lanes and the importance of this recently renovated historical structure to Middlebury and Weybridge.
I’ll report more as we monitor traffic flow in the first few days of the closure of Main Street but I wanted to share some of the basics with you ahead of next week and also prompt any questions or concerns you may have that will help us all get through this next 10 weeks safely and in good spirit.
Don’t Forget the Public Meeting
A final reminder: for an overview of construction activities and timelines during the next 10 weeks, plan to attend a virtual public meeting hosted by the Middlebury Selectboard on Wednesday, July 8, at 7 PM. You can also watch the presentation after the fact at MCTV.
To join the meeting from your computer, just click on the following link: