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Another month of traffic and detours

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By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — People driving in and around Middlebury will need to contend with traffic delays and detours for at least another month as workers push ahead with infrastructure improvements on College Street, a traffic signalization project on Court Street and the repaving of a large section of Route 7.

Workers have spent most of the summer replacing water, sewer and storm drain infrastructure along portions of College Street, ranging from its intersection with Main Street to where the state highway begins at the western base of the hill that leads to the Middlebury College campus on Route 125.

Most of the College Street work has been completed between the Main Street and Weybridge Street intersections, according to Middlebury Director of Operations Dan Werner. Sidewalk work was scheduled this week on the north side of College Street, followed by the next phase of water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure replacement west of the Weybridge Street intersection.

A small amount of blasting will probably be required to get through ledge at two spots on College Street, in order to get the new water main in, according to Werner.

Most of the College Street work will end at the Shannon Street intersection, Werner said.

Another segment of the College Street project will involve installing a sanitary force main from the intersection of Ridgeline Drive, toward Adirondack View. At the same time, Middlebury College will cover the costs of running an upgraded water main west from Adirondack View to ensure better fire sprinkler service for some of its buildings in that neighborhood.

“It should all be done by mid-October,” Werner said of the remaining College Street work.

Route 7 North has also been a hotbed of activity on recent weeks.

Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) officials expect that repaving of Route 7 between Middlebury and New Haven Junction will be completed in November. The work has resulted in periodic lane closings during the past few weeks.

David Blackmore, general manager of the AOT District 5 (which includes Addison County and much of Chittenden County), said one other impending state project could cause some temporary headaches for motorists. The project will involve replacement of a failing culvert on Route 30, located approximately three miles south of the road’s intersection with Route 74. Plans call for Route 30 to be temporarily closed at the construction location on Sept. 30 and 31, according to Blackmore.

Meanwhile, work has been proceeding sporadically to install a new computer-controlled signal system for Court Street. Once installed, with the aid of $1.3 million in federal funds, the system will provide for better synchronization of traffic signals from Court Square to The Centre shopping plaza.

Werner said conduit for the new signal hardware has been installed, and most of the new sidewalk approaches to the signal crosswalks have been completed. Those crosswalks will ultimately be marked with a red brick-style imprint.

Town officials had hoped to see the project completed this fall, but that may not happen.

“It was anticipated that Court Street would be milled at the intersections right now, and that they would be repaved right now,” Werner said. “But the subcontractor is working somewhere else now. If they are not here by Oct. 1, we may have to delay (completion of the project) until next spring.”

While the Court Street project may get an “incomplete” for this year, the town has seen other major road work get done during what has been one of the busiest construction seasons ever in Middlebury.

Completed projects include reconstruction of Seminary Street from North Pleasant Street to Springside Road, and new shim/overlay work on High Street, Washington Street Extension, Woodland Park, the east end of Meadow Way, Wilmar Street, Cones Road and Maple Street.

MORE WORK AHEAD

Winter will only provide a short breather from road work for those who live in and travel through Middlebury.

Werner explained that next construction season, the AOT plans to mill and repave Main Street, from the Middlebury Congregational Church to the Cornwall town line; Route 125 (College Street) from Main Street to the Cornwall line; and Court Street, from Creek Road to just north of High Street.

“I think they’ll start in the spring, because there is a fair amount of it to do,” Werner said.

With the abundance of state paving projects planned for next year, replacement of the railroad overpass at Merchants Row — currently scheduled for the summer of 2007 — remains highly doubtful, officials said. Selectboard Chairman John Tenny called the state’s expectations to start the Merchants Row underpass next spring as “ludicrous” at a recent selectboard meeting, hinting that the timetable would most likely be delayed a year.

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