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Opinion: Solution pitched for Middlebury rail bridges

I write to suggest a solution to the town of Middlebury’s needed rail project: Replace one overpass, not two. I suggest this in the hope that the associated cost would be significantly less and that the construction timeline would be significantly shorter.
I suggest that the town consider replacing the Main Street overpass only, thus eliminating the Merchants Row overpass. With the Cross Street Bridge now in existence, the town’s traffic patterns and potential are greatly changed, mostly for the better, and these could be capitalized upon. The Cross Street Bridge now bears much of the traffic that Merchants Row carried in the past. This allows one to consider the removal of the Merchants Row overpass.
With the Merchants Row overpass eliminated, Merchants Row could then become an extension of the town green, a pedestrian zone or a parking lot. There is ample evidence that pedestrian zones boost retail sales. The lack of downtown parking seems to be a perennial complaint.
If we could save taxpayers money and lessen the disruption to downtown businesses, then please consider being won over.
John R. Schmitt
Middlebury

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