How old are the bridges over the rail line?
Both were built in 1920-21.
Why are the bridges being replaced?
The bridges are in deteriorated condition and have both been recommended for replacement by bridge inspectors.
Why bother investing limited resources in rail when the need to upgrade Vermont’s roads, bridges, and transit is so great?
Moving freight on the Western Corridor’s rail takes truck traffic off Route 7, 22A and other state routes, reducing wear and tear and congestion on these roads. One rail car can carry the equivalent load of four trucks! Also, plans are in the works to extend passenger rail service between Rutland and Burlington, with a stop in Middlebury by 2020.
Was bridge rehabilitation given serious consideration?
It was and dismissed as a viable option. No part of the existing bridge decks and supporting structures are considered salvageable and rehabilitation would not improve two current deficiencies that affect rail – the curved track and insufficient height for today’s standard double-stack freight railcars.
Did anyone consider moving the railroad?
Yes, that was one of four alternatives studied. A report was issued to the Town of Middlebury in July 2013. The report concluded moving the railroad would create unacceptable impacts to existing buildings, historic resources and would have unreasonable costs.
Why build a tunnel?
When compared to replacing two bridges, the tunnel offers better safety, drainage and aesthetics (adds green space and connects Middlebury Village Green and Middlebury Village Historic District). Trains will pass through town with less noise. The tunnel option is supported by the Middlebury Selectboard as it responds to the 2012 Town Plan to “close up the chasm that exists in the downtown area…”.
How long will the tunnel be?
About 360 feet
What will be the tunnel’s clearance height for trains?
At least 21 feet. Currently the vertical clearance of the Main Street bridge is 17’-10” and Merchants Row bridge is 17’-8.5”.
How much green space will be added by this project?
There will be about 0.2 acres of land over the tunnel. When the tunnel is completed, it will be covered with a landscaped area linking Triangle Park to the Village Green. Triangle Park had been part of the Green from the 1790’s until 1849 when the Rutland Railroad built the rail line through Middlebury.
Is there a plan for handling contaminated soils resulting from for over 150 years of rail use?
Soils in the project area have been thoroughly tested for the presence of contaminants. A Corrective Action Plan will be developed before construction begins and posted on this website.
Who are the key players on this project?
This project is being managed by the Vermont Agency of Transportation. VTrans has selected VHB as the Lead Engineering Designer, and Kubricky Construction Corporation as Construction Manager/General Contractor rather than using the standard Design, Bid, and Build process.This allows the contractor to be selected in the design phase to provide input on schedule, cost and constructability. This collaboration, with oversight from VTrans, creates a more efficient design on an accelerated schedule. Additionally, the Town of Middlebury has a liaison dedicated working with the team full time.
[If you have a question you would like to ask the project team, please send an email