Tunnel boring machine breaks through Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — After a journey of 30 days and some 140 feet, the large tunnel boring machine at work in the downtown Middlebury rail bridges project emerged into daylight in Riverfront Park at mid-day on Thursday, Sept. 20. The machine bore a 5-foot-diameter hole from the 40-foot-deep pit alongside Printer’s Alley near the railroad tracks to edge of the Otter Creek just bellow the falls.
The tunnel was the first of three that will provide drainage for the $72 million project, which will create a tunnel over the railroad tracks as they go through downtown Middlebury.
The tunnel boring machine averaged between one and two feet an hour cutting through solid rock with a dirt-and-rock seam.
After completing the first tunnel, the boring machine was taken back to the shop of contractor ECI for a thorough cleaning and check-up before being brought back to the launch pit to begin the second tunnel. ECI was due to spend this week reconfiguring the pit so it could begin the tunnel that would run uphill to Receiving Pit 2 behind Triangle Park. Once more bedrock is removed, Receiving Pit 2 will end up 24 feet below track level.
Work on Receiving Pit 3, the northern arm of the new drainage system, located alongside the rail line in the Marble Works, is due to begin in October.
Meanwhile this week work began at the outlet of the completed tunnel as ECI and Kubricky started construction of a concrete headwall to support the stormwater pipe and grout in the space between the steel casing and the tunnel wall.
Jim Gish, community liaison for the Middlebury Bridge and Rail Project, noted in his weekly update to the public that contaminated soil excavated from the rail corridor during the construction of the temporary access road was transported to a processing facility in Fort Edward, N.Y., in accordance with a Corrective Action Plan developed in collaboration with and approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Gish also reported that more than 30 citizens, many representing local organizations, gathered at town offices on Sept. 19 to review preliminary designs for rebuilding and landscaping Triangle Park and Printer’s Alley.
“In a spirited discussion, the merits of different approaches to these downtown public spaces was debated,” Gish wrote. “Should Triangle Park be restored as a traditional park-like space? Should it become more of an open plaza designed to drive downtown business with a wide variety of events, perhaps including our Farmer’s Market?”
The preliminary plans presented at the public meeting will be revised based on public input and will get a wider public airing.
Gish invited questions via email at [email protected].

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