MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury drivers last week got their first-ever opportunity to travel behind the town’s municipal building, as Academy Street officially opened to traffic in the first of what will be several changes in downtown traffic patterns this summer.
Academy Street is the new, one-way road linking College Street to Main Street. It is but one part of the $16 million Cross Street Bridge project scheduled for completion by the end of this October.
With the opening of Academy Street, College Street (Route 125) now supports only westbound traffic for the block between Main Street and Academy. Previously, vehicles driving eastbound on College Street could connect directly to Main Street; but now they must turn right at Academy, and left onto South Main in order to get to Main Street.
Along with the actual bridge taking shape over the Otter Creek at Cross Street, travelers have begun to see related downtown road changes — beginning with Academy Street, which will get a final coat of pavement as soon as the end of this month, according to project manager Dave Hallam. The downtown road work will be capped with a new rotary at the confluence of Main, Park, College and Cross streets and Bakery Lane.
On Tuesday, work crews began realigning the intersection of South and South Main streets to a more perpendicular configuration, Hallam said. As a result, until further notice, all southbound (outbound) traffic on Main Street (Route 30) is required when leaving downtown to bear right onto College Street, then left onto Academy Street, and right onto South Main Street. South Main Street between Academy Street and Bakery Lane is for the time being relegated to only northbound traffic.
Crews that had been working on Academy Street have been relocated to Cross Street, where they have been helping with re-grading and sidewalk work, among other things, according to Hallam.
Hallam explained that plans call for the new diagonal parking on College Street to be in place before construction starts on the new rotary. Work on that intersection will begin in mid- to late July and will result in the loss of parking spots in front of Two Brothers Tavern and in the former Steele’s Service Center lot. The spots at Steele’s will probably be eliminated first, officials said, as a result of impending work on the Cross Street/Main Street approach to the new bridge.
When the roundabout work begins, it will be done in a manner that preserves through-traffic on Main Street, Hallam said.
Other Cross Street Bridge construction highlights for this week include:
• Completion of the keyway grouting for the Span 1 box beams.
• Arrival of and the initial layout of the reinforcing steel for the bridge deck.
• Post-tensioning of the box beam girders of Spans 1 and 3.
• Installation of sidewalk and short retaining wall along College Street.
• Installation of concrete forms for the back walls of Spans 1 and 3.
• Completion of residential service tie-ins and cleanup of the Cross Street underground utility work.
• Start of work on the new storm drainage installations at Cross Street.
• Completion of the storm water drainage piping at the north end of the upper lot along Bakery Lane.
The town of Middlebury maintains regular Cross Street Bridge construction updates at www.middlebury.govoffice.com.
Reporter John Flowers is at firstname.lastname@example.org.