Locals weigh in on bridge work: Middlebury to share results of new survey

MIDDLEBURY — At its Tuesday meeting, the Middlebury selectboard received an update on the downtown Middlebury rail bridges project. Jim Gish, community liaison for the $52 million project, said he will soon release results of a recent survey on local folks’ reactions to the new temporary bridges on Merchants Row and Main Street. Gish said 250 people responded to the report, with a majority expressing positive reactions to the construction and related communication this past summer.
Gish added the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) will create some “storyboards” to be placed in the downtown to visually tell the story of the bridges project, which will resume next spring and continue into 2020.
Gish also noted VTrans has approved the town’s request to provide granite curbing for sidewalks within the project area. Gish encouraged officials to consider the pros and cons of granite curbing, which he said lasts longer than the concrete variety, but can be more difficult to maintain.
In other action on Tuesday, the Middlebury selectboard discussed economic development (see story on Page 1A) and also:
•  Unanimously supported Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley’s request to replace his department’s current radio and telephone logging recording system.
The system records all radio and telephone communications that come into the department. Hanley explained the current equipment is not dovetailing well with department software. He requested a switch to a leased recording unit provided by New Hampshire-based Acorn Recording Solutions, at a cost of $15,361 over five years. The switch will save the town $7,400 over the life of the contract and provide satisfactory service, according to Hanley.
•  Agreed to launch talks with Middlebury College officials about a potential partnership on community-wide broadband services. The college currently has good on-campus telecommunications infrastructure, but users find that service diminishes as they get further away from college grounds. The town of Middlebury has been hoping to boost its broadband capabilities for the convenience of local residents and as a business recruiting tool.
•  Heard from Tree Warden Chris Zeoli about what he said was a contractor’s poorly executed plan to remove trees from the southern takeoff/approach of the Middlebury State Airport runway. He said the contractor removed the trees in a manner that could compromise the stability of an affected slope near Forest Ridge Drive. The Independent will have a more complete report on this in a future edition.

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