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2020 Update #47

Main Street and Merchants Row To Reopen Friday at 11 AM

The Highlights

  • Ribbon-cutting ceremony to take place at intersection of Main and Merchants

  • First Vermont Rail train through at 10 AM

  • Wrapping up 10 weeks of construction

On Friday morning, Middlebury will mark the end of this summer’s 10-week shutdown with a ceremonial first train through the new downtown rail tunnel and a ribbon-cutting ceremony to reopen the newly restored Main Street and Merchants Row to pedestrians and thru traffic.

A Vermont Rail passenger train will make its way from Water Street on the south end of the project through the rail tunnel to Middle Seymour Street, where its passengers will disembark to attend the downtown ribbon-cutting.

A good place to view the first train through, which is scheduled to take place about 10 AM, will be the Merchants Row end of the rail tunnel (to see it coming) and the Main Street end of the rail tunnel (to see it going). The first VRS freight train will follow within the hour.

Then, at 11 AM, representatives from VTrans, Kubricky, VHB, and our other partners in this historic project will join the Middlebury Selectboard in a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony at the intersection of Main Street and Merchants Row to formally reopen our two downtown roads to thru traffic.

To recognize their frontline work during these challenging times, the first vehicles through will be the Middlebury Fire and Police departments, Middlebury Regional EMS, and the Middlebury Department of Public Works.

Wrapping Up 10 Weeks of Construction

As the 10-week shutdown winds down to its final days, Kubricky and its subcontractors are pushing hard to deliver Middlebury’s downtown back to the community.

L&D Safety Marking out of Barre arrived in town Tuesday afternoon to begin striping parking on Merchants Row. Remember when you could park downtown? That day will return on Friday, when some 100 parking spots will reopen on Main Street and Merchants Row.

The photo below shows parking striped in the upper stretch of Merchants Row.

Landshapes, the landscape contractor out of Richmond, is installing the new bump-outs on Merchants Row and Main Street that are designed to calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety. You can see the bump-out, which consists of hundreds of individual granite blocks, at the intersection of Main and Merchants in the photo below.

Waters Excavation has completed the Merchants Row sidewalk from the Battell Block up to Town Hall Theater and has poured several 20-foot sections of sidewalk on Main Street between the Post Office and Sweet Cecily. You can see Carrara pouring a section of pavement in front of Main Street Stationery in the photo above.

And down in the rail corridor, as you can see in today’s final photo, ECI’s crew was working Tuesday afternoon to install the continuous welded rail we talked about last week.

Finally, Lafayette Highway Specialties out of Essex Junction will be in town Friday to begin removing the various detour signs around town, including the questionably successful ban on left turns from South Pleasant onto Cross Street.

I know everyone’s curious to see how downtown is taking shape—and probably also tired of making the long detour walks—but I would encourage you to wait two more days before walking into and through the construction zone, as inviting as it seems. There’s still of activity taking place and it’s really not safe to wander into right now. But come Friday, it’s all yours!

That’s all for today. See you downtown.

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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