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2020 Update #48

10-Week Shutdown Comes To An End

The Highlights

  • Ribbon-cutting ceremony marks reopening of Main Street and Merchants Row

  • What to expect this weekend

  • Construction forecast looking ahead

Thursday’s overcast skies and intermittent showers will give way to brisk sunshine Friday morning, just in time to mark our emergence from 10 weeks of construction that have transformed downtown Middlebury.

Before we jump into the weekly update, VTrans and Kubricky have asked me to let you know how much the community’s patience, cooperation, and support have meant to them personally and to their ability to get the job done during these 10 weeks.

I’ve worked with most of this group for the better part of four years now and I know they mean it when they say they’re proud of what we’ve accomplished together. So, on their behalf, thank you.

Now back to Friday.

As I mentioned earlier this week, representatives from VTrans, Kubricky, VHB, and our other project partners will join the Middlebury Selectboard at 11 AM 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.

If you’d like to watch the ribbon-cutting ceremony in person, come on downtown. If you aren’t able to be there in person, The Addison Independent will be live-streaming the event—and the arrival of the first train—on its Facebook page, which you can access here.

Construction will then wrap up at noon on Friday to give the crew a long weekend before we go back to work on Monday. I’ll be back at work with them and continue reporting on construction progress right through the end of the project next summer.

Wrapping up 10 Weeks of Construction

As you can imagine, Thursday saw a whirlwind of activity to spiff up downtown for its debut.

The photo above shows three newly planted “Shademaster honeylocust” trees on the storefront side of Merchants Row late Thursday afternoon as the streets were being given a final sweeping.

For the tree enthusiasts among us, this particular cultivar is considered ideal for use in urban streetscapes. It tolerates urban conditions and the de-icing agents and salt used on sidewalks during winter.

The tree’s branching and light airy leaflets make it well-suited for planting in front of businesses and storefronts with signage. The Shademaster cultivar is a non-fruit bearing, thornless tree that requires little pruning to develop a strong tree canopy structure.

These trees will grow to a height of some 35-40 feet. A good example of a mature honeylocust, now yellowing as Fall arrives, can be seen right across Triangle Park alongside St. Stephen’s.

The photo below shows the final section of Merchants Row sidewalk being poured at the corner of Main and Merchants on Thursday afternoon. This one with its complex grades was a challenge!

What To Expect This Weekend

If you haven’t been downtown recently, this will be a good weekend to head down and see for yourself the changes we’ve been talking about these past several weeks.

Main Street and Merchants Row will be open to thru traffic. You can once again walk between the Post Office and the National Bank, between Marble Works and Main Street, and between Town Hall Theater and the Battell Block.

You can also get a close-up look at the area that will become the new Triangle Park. On Thursday, Kubricky laid down a horseshoe-shaped section of white stone that marks the walkway across Triangle Park and serves as the dividing point between the hardscape plaza-like lower section of the park and the green space on the St. Stephen’s side of the park.

If you’re driving downtown this weekend, there are now 81 parking spaces on Main Street and Merchants Row. One caution: the granite curbs now sit higher above the road surface than normal until the final top coat goes on Main Street and Merchants Row next Spring so take care pulling head first into parking spots.

Printer’s Alley will remain a gravel walkway into early October, so do watch your footing there.

Also, Lafayette will be covering or altogether removing all the various detour signs up and around town.

Construction Forecast

While we’ve now passed the critical milestone in our downtown project, there’s still quite a lot of work to do before the project comes to an end next summer.

Next week, Waters will continue installing sidewalk, this time starting in front of St. Stephen’s before moving to the Town Green side of Merchants Row and working down from Court Square to Main Street.

Kubricky will begin installing our historic ashlar blocks as benches in Triangle Park and readying the area for planting maples along the perimeter of the park.

This work will require temporarily “giving back” some parking alongside Triangle Park so that construction crews can access the work area.

Kubricky will also be working on pouring the cap walls we’ve recently devoted coverage to.

Later this month and into early October, Printer’s Alley will be sidewalked and the roadway into Marble Works from Main Street will be completed. I’ll have more specific dates on that in the near future.

ECI will be doing stormwater drainage work up at the north end of the project and so will again have to reduce Middle Seymour Street—the back entrance to the Marble Works—to a one-lane road. Thanks for your patience with this work.

Finally, next week the National Bank of Middlebury will reopen its Main Street office on Monday to join in the celebration of the reopening of downtown. Hours will be 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Pop-Up Artist Market Saturday in Riverfront Park

Here’s another good reason to head downtown this weekend. Bundle is presenting a Pop-Up Artist Market on Saturday in Riverfront Park between 10 AM and 2 PM.

Fifteen local artists and artisans will be selling a range of products that includes handcrafted pottery, textiles, glass, jewelry, health and wellness products, jams and sorbets, and much more.

You can also enjoy pop-up instrumental music from local performers Phin Holzhammer, the Back Porch Jazz Combo, Jazz Essentials, and a drumming circle demo.

The Market will be presented in a safe and easily socially distanced format to ensure health guidelines are met. All in all, a good reason to get outdoors on Saturday morning and support your local artists.

Keep Calm and Carry Out

And finally, have you seen those clever red Keep Calm and Carry Out posters around town with the names and phone numbers of local restaurants inked in below? This initiative is the brainchild of Town Hall Theater’s Creative Director Doug Anderson and it’s timely arrival reminds us how important it is to continue to support Middlebury’s restaurants until we all arrive on higher ground.

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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