Middlebury readies for ‘connector’ road around municipal building

MIDDLEBURY — People who routinely travel past the Middlebury municipal building at the intersection of College and South Main streets may soon have a clearer view — and one that may not be more pleasing to some people, at least not initially.
Middlebury officials confirmed last week that a second round of tree harvesting will likely occur on the municipal complex grounds sometime in October, this time in an area behind the municipal parking lot that borders the town gym.
If the work goes forward this fall, crews will likely remove around a dozen trees — some of them mature maples — to pave the way for a new connector road that is to be part of the Cross Street Bridge project. That new connector road (often referred to as Weybridge Street extension) will link a soon-to-be-one-way College Street to South Main Street and Franklin Street behind the municipal gym.
Middlebury selectmen on Thursday awarded a contract for Cross Street Bridge-related utility and sewer line work, including the area behind the municipal gym. Officials said that work on the could proceed this fall, and might require excavation and clearing of trees between the gym and the property line of Middlebury College’s Twilight Hall.
John Walsh, project manager for Kubricky Construction (the Cross Street Bridge contractor), said the tree harvesting is likely to occur sometime this month. Several trees along the College Street side of the municipal building grounds were already removed late this past summer.
Middlebury Town Planner Fred Dunnington said it remains unclear whether the foundation and paving of the connector road will be laid this fall; that work may have to wait until next spring. He said the selectboard would be making decisions early this week on work priorities concerning paving around the area of Mister Ups Restaurant and other aspects of the Cross Street Bridge project. He said the Bridge Committee and the selectboard had considered ways to minimize the number of trees that needed to be removed, but that the timing of their removal was unclear as of this past Friday.
Once completed, the connector road segment of the Cross Street project will feature rebuilt steps leading into the west side entrance of the gym; and a 26-space parking lot between the gym and the connector road, which will also feature six off-street parking spots. A diagram of the Cross Street Bridge project and its various components can be found through the town’s Web site, www.middlebury.govoffice.com.
A graphic depiction of the work to be done on the west side of the Middlebury municipal building is included with this story. It shows the connector road and associated parking, and provides a hint of how the area will look without the significant grove of trees that currently softens that end of the building. A second graphic on this page shows the area after trees have been planted.
The graphics software used to create these images, called CommunityViz, was created by the Orton Family Foundation, a Middlebury-based nonprofit that helps communities with planning issues. Orton describes CommunityViz as graphical information systems software that helps people visualize, analyze and communicate about community planning decisions.
With the software, town officials and interested residents can look at various segments of the town in three dimensions, view a particular construction or other project from all angles and, hopefully, foresee potential problems and resolve them before work begins.
Town officials are considering hosting public meetings over the next several months at which area residents could take advantage of the software’s capability and ask questions or propose suggestions pertaining to the town’s future development. No meetings have yet been scheduled.
A chart of future activity on the Cross Street Bridge and related projects indicates work this spring will focus on the actual bridge, now taking shape at both ends of the Otter Creek at the base of Cross Street. J.P. Carrara & Sons is in the process of fabricating beams for the span, which are to be put in place later this fall.
Road improvements related to the project — including a roundabout intersection serving College, South Main, Park and Cross streets, as well as Bakery Lane — are to be completed in the spring. The town will apply for grants to pay for lighting fixtures around the roundabout.
Plans call for the $16 million project to be completed next fall.

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