Burlington-based engineering firm to lead inspection of rail bridges project area

MIDDLEBURY — At a Tuesday meeting, the Middlebury selectboard received an update from community Liaison Jim Gish on plans to replace the Main Street and Merchants Row rail bridges.
The project — originally slated to get under way in 2013 — calls for replacing the two deteriorating, 1920s-era bridges with a 360-foot-long concrete tunnel. It will be made up of 100 pieces of pre-cast concrete, each weighing around 25 tons. Work will encompass a total of 3,500 feet of the rail line. The plan also calls for a drainage system for the rail bed that will result in the undergrounding of various utilities near Printer’s Alley.
Preliminary work on the project was scheduled to begin within a few months. But some concerned downtown property owners successfully argued for an environmental analysis of the project area that will delay construction for another year. Gish on Tuesday said the assessment will be led by VHB Engineers. Wayne Symonds, project manager for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, is scheduled to explain the environmental assessment process to town officials at a Feb. 27 meeting.
Meanwhile, town officials will soon solicit engineering firms interested in doing an independent assessment of the rail bridges replacement project. Middlebury College has agreed to help fund that assessment.
The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday also OK’d a modified agreement with VTrans governing the project.

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