On Friday, 18.September, four years of planning and site preparation came to fruition as a 10-week construction blitz allowed the reopening of VTR’s new 360-foot Middlebury Rail Tunnel.
The new prefab tunnel not only improves rail service by increasing clearances on the main route from Rutland to Burlington. The project was also designed to improve the quality of life for residents by adding green space and connecting Middlebury Village Green and Middlebury Village Historic District.
Vermont Agency of Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn and VRS President Selden Houghton spoke to a group of invited guests and residents who gathered at the south portal for the official opening. Many more residents stood atop the portals to witness the historic occasion. Mr. Houghton recognized the partners involved in the project, including VTrans, the Town of Middlebury, VHB, ECI, and others. He also acknowledged VRS’s interchange partner New England Central, who allowed VRS trains to detour over their tracks during the construction shutdown.
Following the remarks, Secretary Flynn cut the ribbon officially opening the tunnel to rail traffic. Guests, including many of the construction workers who built the tunnel, then boarded a waiting passenger train for the inaugural trip under the town center. Following the passenger train was the first freight train to Burlington. Only a slight rumble could be felt as the train passed under the town square.
Houghton closed with, “The Vermont Rail System is proud to partner with the Vermont Agency of Transportation as we continue our work to modernize the state’s essential rail infrastructure. By investing in projects such as this one we are ensuring that both freight and passenger services can continue to grow and meet the needs of the state’s industries and citizens.”
Video Link: https://youtu.be/EmFikmy1oTk