March 5, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury’s roads are still being serviced by snowplows and sanders, but it won’t be too long before they are invaded by hungry excavators and gargantuan asphalt rollers.
Town officials, local businesses and area motorists are already anticipating — some dreading — this spring and summer, when work crews will begin a busy construction season that will include more than $1.7 million in paving work for state roads running through downtown Middlebury.
“It’s going to be a patience-testing summer, but then we should be in good shape for awhile,” said Middlebury Director of Operations Dan Werner. “We should have a nice looking downtown, when it is done.”
It will all get under way when the snow stops flying, when workers are expected to complete a $1.5 million traffic signal/crosswalk project on Court Street. Stretching from The Centre shopping plaza at the southern end of the village to Court Square, the project will largely involve new traffic signal equipment and pushbutton-activated crossing signs at six intersections. The new signals will be designed to work in synch to ensure more steady traffic flow along Court Street, one of Middlebury’s most jammed-packed arteries during peak travel times.
The signalization project will also include some new crosswalks featuring more durable imprints, including a crosswalk at Mary Hogan Elementary School that will include a flashing “caution” light.
“It should make the morning commute a little easier,” Werner said of the project.
Once that work is completed, Creek Road is scheduled to be repaved from Monroe Street to Court Street. Included in that job is a new crosswalk that will cross Court Street in the vicinity of Creek Road.
Court Square will also get some attention. Plans call for new curbing to be installed around the periphery of the square. That curbing will either be granite or concrete, depending upon how the construction budget holds up, according to Werner. The square may also be adorned with new historic light fixtures, as part of a separate town project targeted for the site.
Also scheduled for repaving is a section of North Pleasant Street (Route 7), north to High Street. Workers will mill, shim and overlay that section of road, replacing existing crosswalk surfaces with more durable “imprint” material.
The North Pleasant Street project will include some ditching and storm sewer work in the vicinity of High Street. Workers will also align the crosswalk leading from the town green to the Middlebury Inn; install crosswalk ramps at the Middlebury Inn (across from the Middlebury Congregational Church) and near the Seymour Street/Main Street intersection; and replace sidewalk from the inn driveway to Seminary Street.
Main Street and Route 30 are also scheduled for repaving, from the Congregational Church to the Ralph Myhre Golf Course.
“Most of the milling and paving will take place at night around Court Square and in the downtown,” Werner said, noting efforts to minimize disruption for merchants, motorists and pedestrians.
Meanwhile, repaving is also scheduled for College Street and Route 125, to a point just west of Adirondack View. The job will produce new crosswalks and some additional curbing in the Adirondack View area.
The above-listed projects will be coordinated by the state of Vermont. The town, meanwhile, has its own work lined up, including:
• An effort to repair the abutments of the Lower Plains Bridge.
• Culvert replacements on Creek Road and South Street.
• Replenishment of gravel on several roads, in particular Blake Roy Road, South Street and Middle Munger Street.
• A combined total of approximately $350,000 in paving work on local roads, in locations still to be determined. The paving budget is contingent upon the municipal budget vote at Monday’s annual town meeting.
In addition to the road, sidewalk and signalization work, Middlebury will also perform some water- and sewer-related projects. Those projects will include a water line crossing through the Otter Creek, from Water Street to the west side of the creek; and an upgrade to water pipes near the Palmer Springs pump station off Route 116. That project is intended to improve chlorine contact time for municipal water users in the Route 116 area.
Town officials said they don’t expect detours as a result of all the work to be done, but there will undoubtedly be traffic delays as some affected roads are temporarily shut down to one lane.
“We’ll try to make it as easy as possible,” said Middlebury Town Manager Bill Finger.