Opinion: Great care a must for RR project

The thoughtful letter by Bruce Hiland about the railway bridge project and the equally thoughtful response by Bill Finger, the town’s project manager, have made me see the dire situation the town is in. The railway bridges are failing. The rail bed is unsafe. Rebuilding and replacing them must not be delayed.
However, the magnitude of the project and the duration of it cause me to wonder whether the town can endure it. The project may be likened to performing open heart surgery on the town center, the heart of Middlebury. The only acceptable outcome of it is that the town will survive and continue to flourish.
I’m encouraged by Bill Finger’s assurance that the best engineers have been engaged to design the new bridges, the rail bed and its drainage system. But the problem is not primarily with the design but with its implementation, or if it is with design, then it is with search for a design that can be implemented in the shortest possible time and that is phased so that the town’s vital functions may continue unimpeded, so that the town can continue living and breathing.
This is an engineering project. The engineers engaged are CIVIL engineers, which is to say, they are or should be experts on designing and implementing projects that enable cities and towns to flourish, and that are accomplished in a way that they do the least harm.
To make sure that this is so, I recommend that there be a series of meetings open to all concerned citizens, property owners, owners of businesses, and town officials, that the principal designers present a detailed account of the project, its implementation, with special attention about how this will be accomplished with the least harm to the town. This should happen soon.
Victor Nuovo, Middlebury

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