Downtown Middlebury on track to reopen Friday, Sept. 18

Looking down Merchant's Row toward Main Street, construction crews can be seen working on the Middlebury rail tunnel project in late August.

Get ready to say goodbye to the detour around downtown Middlebury.

The planned 10-week closure of Main Street and Merchants Row — to allow for progress on the new rail tunnel through the heart of the village — is on track to end Friday, according to the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

Construction crews replaced a pair of temporary bridge structures, each in place since 2017, when the nearly century-old spans had been demolished, with a modern rail tunnel. The affected streets have been closed since July 13.

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The tunnel measures 360 feet in length and allows for 21 feet of vertical clearance. It will be able to accommodate double-stack freight cars as well as passenger rail if that service line is extended from Rutland to Burlington in the future.

The tunnel also adds green space on the surface and mitigates train noise, according to VTrans

The multi-year project is slated to be completed in full in 2021.

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This artist's rendering shows the expanded surface area along the village green provided by the new rail tunnel through downtown Middlebury.

Contact Austin Danforth at 651-4851 or edanforth@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @eadanforth.

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