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Shire town’s ‘Big Dig’ gets under way

MIDDLEBURY — Crews continued to mobilize heavy equipment and fencing in downtown Middlebury last week and began preliminary work on Phase I of the $72 million rail bridges project.
The project by 2021 will result in the Main Street and Merchants Row rail spans being replaced by a large, concrete tunnel. Work this spring will center on a rail-bed drainage system that will be bored into four downtown locations.
Kubricky Construction on Wednesday installed a chain-link fence around Triangle Park and Printer’s Alley in preparation for drilling/boring at those two areas. On Thursday, crews brought a second excavator into Printer’s Alley and began demolishing and hauling away the concrete foundation of the old Lazarus building, according to Jim Gish, community liaison for the Middlebury rail bridges project.
Green Mountain Power and Comcast showed up to raise the aerial utility wires running across Printer’s Alley in preparation for bringing a crane into that area in May.
In Triangle Park, Peck Electric removed the town’s three light poles to be stored, and Kubricky began dismantling the fountain, which will be stored at the town’s wastewater treatment plant. Kubricky also excavated the lilac trees and lilac bushes in the park, which were then transplanted at the town offices and other sites around town.
A WORKER GUIDES  a marble block from Middlebury’s Triangle Park fountain onto the bed of a truck. The fountain is being dismantled for temporary storage pending completion of the downtown Middlebury rail bridges project. Part of the new drainage system for the rail bed is being drilled at Triangle Park.
Independent photo/Angelo Lynn
Gish said the five parking spaces lost alongside Triangle Park on Main Street will soon be restored and available for about another two weeks. But he added those spaces will then be taken by the contractor for the duration of the project to provide safe access in and out of Triangle Park.
Work scheduled for this week will include complete excavation of the Lazarus foundation, taking the construction area down to bedrock, according to Gish. Later in the week, Maine Drilling & Blasting will head into Printer’s Alley to begin the lengthy process of drilling and blasting a 40-foot-diameter pit that will extend some 35 feet below the surface, he said. This will be the center point of the new drainage infrastructure.
State officials are currently reviewing a blasting plan. Once it is approved, Maine Drilling & Blasting will get to work on the noisiest phase of this year’s construction. Officials estimate drilling will begin on Monday, May 7.

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