Larger team OK’d for Middlebury rail tunnel project
MIDDLEBURY — State officials on Friday, May 15, gave permission to Kubricky Construction to assemble a full crew for work on the downtown Middlebury rail bridges project, which until recently had stalled due to coronavirus-related workforce restrictions.
As reported by the Independent, New York project contractor Kubricky had been limited to a maximum of 10 onsite workers only last week, all subject to social distancing and other protocols. Kubricky Vice President of Construction Mark Alexander told the Middlebury selectboard last week that Vermont’s COVID-19 rules (at that time) triggered additional precautions when a workforce exceeded 10 — including testing protocols for employees. Alexander at the time was unsure when Kubricky would have those tests at its disposal.
But state authorities this past Friday relaxed rules to the extent that Monday saw Kubricky’s construction crew expand from last week’s 10 to more than 24 workers — including three state inspectors, according to Jim Gish, community liaison for the Middlebury rail bridges project.
Gish said the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development is no longer requiring out-of-state crews to be tested prior to working in Vermont.
“As part of its due diligence, however, Kubricky will have much of its crew tested at the Middlebury pop-up testing site this week,” Gish said through a recent email to the public. “Crew reporting to work each morning must pass a health inspection, including (a) temperature check. A dedicated COVID-19 health officer has been on site since last Monday to monitor compliance with the state’s health and safety protocols.”
There’s also no longer a requirement that out-of-state workers lodge in Vermont, so employees coming in from New York will commute to the job site from their homes, primarily in Essex County just across Lake Champlain, according to Gish.
Work can now resume on all aspects of the project that must occur before this summer’s closure of the rail corridor and a 10-week shutdown of Main Street and Merchants Row to motorists, Gish said.
The centerpiece of the $72 million project — a 360-foot concrete tunnel that will supplant the Main Street and Merchants Row rail bridges — will be installed this summer, possibly beginning in July, officials said. Individual sections of that tunnel are now being taken from a Schuylerville, N.Y., plant to the Fifield Farm south of Middlebury village.
Gish anticipates 40-50 workers will be busy at the project site when the tunnel is installed.
Kubricky is now working on the rail slopes alongside the Battell Block driveway and between the downtown bridges.
Gish added more in his email: “Carrara is in town Monday to grout the 13 rail corridor minipiles and 10 Merchants Row minipiles installed last week … And a vacuum truck and crew are stationed on the sidewalk in front of the Duclos Building (National Bank of Middlebury) to remove portions of the sidewalk and identify all underground utilities before minipile drilling begins between the Duclos Building and the southbound lane of Main Street.”
The Vermont Agency of Transportation and Kubricky are slated to finalize revised construction dates within the next two weeks, according to Gish.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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