2020 Update #38

10-Week Closure of Main Street Gets Underway

The Highlights

  • Main Street temporary bridge now gone

  • Construction of downtown tunnel begins next week

  • Left-hand turn from South Pleasant Street onto Cross Street temporarily eliminated

Right on schedule, the 10-week closure of Main Street and the downtown rail corridor got underway Monday morning at 7 AM.

Despite the challenge of shutting down a major Middlebury thoroughfare, traffic seemed to be moving well throughout the week.

Over the weekend, to prepare for the shutdown, a group of volunteers from Neighbors Together, Rotary Club of Middlebury, Addison County Home Health & Hospice, and the Gish family helped mark out our pedestrian and roadway detours by painting blue footprints on area sidewalks and setting in place those colorful Get Downtown Middlebury sidewalk and roadside signs that you may have seen around town.

One traffic bottleneck has been South Pleasant Street.

That bottleneck is caused largely by motorists trying to turn left from South Pleasant onto Cross Street into a high volume of traffic. Anticipating this, the Middlebury Selectboard approved a plan to temporarily eliminate that left-hand turn during the 10-week closure.

Thank you for observing the no-left-turn sign for the next few weeks. If you really need to turn left, it will only take another minute or two to turn right, go around the roundabout, and come back up Cross Street.

Your Weekly Construction Update

With Vermont Rail now detouring up the eastern side of the state, ECI began removing the track and ties early Monday morning. We’ve had a few instances of people trying to get down into the rail corridor this week. For your own safety and that of the crew, please do not enter the construction zone.

Kubricky spent Monday disassembling the Main Street temporary bridge. By 7 PM, witnessed by a crowd of bystanders, our 300-ton crane swung into action and lifted the bridge from Main Street over to Merchants Row, where it was disassembled and eventually trucked out to the VTrans Middlesex yard.

Then on Tuesday our heavily traveled Main Street footbridge was removed and trucked off to Bristol, where it will have a second life replacing an older bridge that spans the gorge in Memorial Park up along Route 17.

On Wednesday, Printer’s Alley was closed to pedestrian traffic for the duration of the 10 weeks.

A primary activity in Week 1 as you probably know by now is excavation of the rail corridor. Starting Tuesday, a continuous line of dump trucks began hauling soil out of the north and south ends of the rail corridor. By end of the day Thursday, approximately 6,000 cubic yards of a planned 30,000 cubic yards had been removed from the rail corridor. The photo below shows excavation underway between the steel sheets at the north end of the project.

I thought you might find it interesting to know that soil from the north end of the project is going to the Goodrich Farm on Shard Villa Road in Salisbury to support construction of a new barn on the property. You may have read about the partnership between Middlebury College, Vanguard Renewables, Vermont Gas, and the Goodrich Farm to convert cow manure and food waste to natural gas. You can read more about that project here.

ECI will likely complete excavation of the north end next week.

During the week Maine Drilling & Blasting conducted seven small blasts on either side of the site of the Main Street bridge. Maine D&B will be back for further blasting this weekend. As always, there will be a clear warning before blasting and we will clear a perimeter around the area for everyone’s safety. Blasting will only take place during the day.

Kubricky installed the remaining segment of the stormwater drainage system between the bridges as the week drew to a close. You can see that pipe, which will connect two manhole structures, in transit in the photo below late Thursday afternoon.

What’s Happening Week 2

Things are moving right along. Kubricky expects to begin building the downtown tunnel next week. That means the large precast concrete u-walls will begin to be trucked in down South Main Street from the Fifield Farm marshaling yard.

To prepare for that, early in the week Kubricky will cordon off all parking on South Main Street from the Mahaney Arts Center all the way down to the roundabout. You may recall that the larger u-walls overhang the right side of the flatbed truck by five feet requiring those parking spots to be temporarily eliminated.

Downtown Is Open!

I want to remind you that you can still walk or take the Shuttlebury right into the middle of downtown and that many of our Main Street and Marble Works stores and restaurants are open for business. And if Sweet Cecily or Sabai Sabai are your destination, you’ll get a close-up view of this once-in-a-lifetime construction project.

That’s all for today. See you downtown.

Please keep your comments and questions coming. Send me an email at jgish@townofmiddlebury.org and I’ll try to cover it in my next update.

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