Creek road to be repaved, equipped with a new sidewalk

MIDDLEBURY — Work is under way on a $752,000 project to fix and pave 2,200 feet of Creek Road and install a new sidewalk on the west side of the street, which among other things serves Middlebury’s new recreation facility.
“The road is tired,” Middlebury Director of Operations Dan Werner said. “(This work) needed to be done a long time ago. It’s long overdue.”
Munson Excavating was the low bidder for the work, expected to wrap up by mid-September. The job will also include improvements to the Creek Road storm sewer system.
“They have submitted an aggressive schedule, which, of course, depends on the weather and any other unforeseen issues that might arise,” Werner said of Munson.
The project will be financed through the town and a $250,000 federal grant, according to Werner. That grant is largely earmarked for the approximately 1,600-feet of new sidewalk that will extend from the intersection of Route 7 to the Trail Around  Middlebury access on Creek Road.
Meanwhile, workers will eliminate the many potholes that have been plaguing motorists for a long time on Creek Road, which has been drawing more traffic since the opening of the town recreation facility early this year.
“There will be a lot of (road) base reconstruction,” Werner said. “In some areas, 24 inches (deep) of road will be removed and rebuilt.”
Some of the existing road base will be recycled in place, with new base and pavement laid on top of that material, according to Werner.
At least one local resident has raised concerns about the work’s potential effect on what he identified as an archaeologically important site off Creek Road.
Resident Tobias Woodard is concerned about potential damage to the site of a former porcelain factory on the west side of Creek Road, run by the late Caleb Farrar and his family beginning in 1810. Some of the company’s pottery pieces are on display by the Art Institute of Chicago and Vermont Historical Society, according to Woodard. The company ceased pottery production in 1860, he said. Woodard is concerned about potential damage to any porcelain remnants in the area.
But state historic preservation officials and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) have raised no red flags about potential impacts on historically sensitive sites on Creek Road.
“All of the state agencies have signed off on this project,” Werner said. “It has had the full review of VTrans, and hence the other state agencies.”
Woodard remains concerned about the work, however.
“Its unfortunate that the town of Middlebury and the state of Vermont haven’t grasped the historical significance of the Farrar Porcelain Factory site,” he said.
“It was in operation 14 years before the Abraham Miller Porcelain Works started in Philadelphia, Pa.,” he added, alluding to another early American porcelain producer.
Werner said that this latest project has nothing to do with a potentially more involved makeover of the graveled portion of Creek Road that is currently under investigation. A consultant is currently exploring ways to prevent future flooding of the road by the adjacent Otter Creek. Parts of Creek Road (further south from the Route 7 intersection) have been submerged in water during major weather events.
Werner is anticipating the consultant’s report later this summer.
Other Middlebury projects on tap this summer and fall include:
• Paving of approximately 4,900 feet on Painter Road.
• Replacement of sanitary sewer infrastructure on Weybridge Street.
• The upgrading of technology within the town’s water meter system. This first phase of this project this summer will affect 288 meter registers throughout town, according to Werner. The new technology will allow meters to be read by the town from a remote location and — with special software — allow consumers to instantly and exactly measure their own water use.
The Public Works Department recently finished cleaning out ditches on Shard Villa Road (south of the Middlebury River). The work also involved replacement of a few cross road and driveway culverts, according to Werner.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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