Report: Construction didn’t hurt Middlebury buildings

MIDDLEBURY — A Massachusetts-based company charged with monitoring the condition of buildings in downtown Middlebury has issued a report stating those structures weren’t adversely affected by preliminary construction work on the Main Street and Merchants Row rail bridges project.
That news was confirmed on Friday by Jim Gish, community liaison for the $72 million Middlebury rail bridges project, which will get into full swing this summer after a couple of years of preliminary work that largely involved excavating a drainage system for the rail line that borders Otter Creek.
Owners and stewards of buildings closest to the project area voiced concerns about how construction blasting and use of heavy equipment might affect the structural integrity of the vulnerable buildings, including the National Bank of Middlebury, the Post Office, St. Stephen’s Church, the Seymour Street fire station, the Gas House (aka the stone building at the bottom of Printer’s Alley), and the former State Farm Insurance offices in the Marble Works next to Round Robin.
The company Geocomp put in place seismograph machines, crack gauges, and acoustic microphones to monitor in real time the impacts of 2018 construction, according to Gish. The company documented every preexisting structural defect with photographs and written notes. The buildings were then continuously monitored throughout the year.
Last week, Geocomp was back in town to give the buildings a thorough inspection.
“When their work was completed on Wednesday afternoon, they could report that the post-construction condition of each building was unchanged,” Gish reported in his most recent email update on the project.
The buildings are, of course, not out of the woods quite yet; there remain another three years of construction to go before the two rail overpasses will be replaced by a concrete tunnel. But the early news is good.
Gish said Geocomp will be back in Middlebury in a couple of months to prepare downtown buildings for the main project that will kick off this summer.
In other rail-related news, the organization Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects has received wood from the trees removed last months from the rail corridor between Cross Street and Elm Street. A new passenger rail platform will eventually be built in that vicinity.

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