Middlebury construction season is here: Downtown bridge work is top project

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents this spring and summer will experience the first of several strong doses of construction work that will cause some temporary inconveniences but some long-term upgrades to the town’s infrastructure.
The “main event” will be a $52 million project to replace the Main Street and Merchants Row rail bridges with a 350-foot-long concrete tunnel. That massive project is tentatively slated to get under way next spring, but downtown merchants, travelers and shoppers will get a sneak preview beginning next month. That’s when work crews will begin installing temporary spans at the Main Street and Merchants Row locations.
It’s a project that will require some detours and some long-term changes in downtown traffic options. For example, the Main Street temporary span will result in Printer’s Alley being relegated to pedestrian access until the final bridge work is completed in 2020-2021. The Merchants Row temporary bridge will be endowed with one, 14-foot-wide lane allowing one-way vehicular traffic eastbound across the span toward South Pleasant Street.
Once in place, the temporary bridges will allow for the two 1920s-era spans to be demolished in anticipation of Middlebury’s version of the “big dig” next spring.
In the meantime, other shorter-term public works projects will pop up around town in the coming months, according to Middlebury Director of Operations Dan Werner. They will consist largely of paving, culvert, sidewalk and sewer main projects. Specific work, according to Werner, will include:
•  A storm sewer, sidewalk and curb replacement project on the west side of North Pleasant Street, from its intersection with Main Street to Methodist Lane. This project is expected to be completed by late June.
•  Replacement of a culvert on Halpin Road, located about a quarter-mile north of the Painter Road intersection.
“The wing walls of the existing culvert structure have collapsed,” Werner explained. “And the base of the road is fracturing.”
The culvert will be replaced with an aluminum arch pipe, according to Werner. At the same time, workers will replace the associated guardrails and paving.
Werner is anticipating a mid- to late-June start date for the project. He expects Halpin Road will be closed for “several days; hopefully less than 10.” He added affected residents will be warned and informed of temporary detours.
•  A combined effort by the town and Middlebury College to improve around 400 feet of water main on Hillcrest Road. The college will finance the water main, while the town is funding the related road repairs, according to Werner. The improved water main will be key in allowing the college to extend sprinkler service to a couple of its Hillcrest Road buildings, according to Werner.
This project is expected to get under way this summer.
•  Laying around 200 feet of new sidewalk and curbing on a portion of the west side of South Pleasant Street, north of Cross Street. This project will likely begin in July and last a week or 10 days, Werner said.
•  A storm sewer, water main and sanitary sewer project involving portions of South Street and Chipman Park. Werner said some homes in that area have no on-site means of storm water disposal, thus creating drainage problems. The work will involve upgrading the current, leaky water main from the current four inches in diameter to eight. It will encompass around 300 feet of water main, around 500 feet of storm sewer and approximately 100 feet of sanitary sewer, according to Werner.
This project is expected to begin in mid- to late summer.
•  A water monitoring effort that will require building two small structures at the entry point of the town’s water system off Route 116. The structures will include equipment that will monitor chlorine and fluoride residuals in the municipal water system, according to Werner.
It’s a summer project that will also result in an addition to Middlebury’s well house No. 3 to allow for better separation of the town’s chlorine and fluoride equipment from the electrical equipment within the structure.
•  Improvements to a few hundred feet of Shard Villa Road, near its intersection with Three Mile Bridge Road. Werner explained the road is being undermined by the adjacent Middlebury River in a similar way that Creek Road is being compromised by the nearby Otter Creek.
Plans call for excavation and armoring of the stream bed off the affected portion of Shard Villa Road, along with some paving work. This will be a complex project that Werner hopes to see accomplished sometime this year.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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