In some ways, Waterbury’s Main Street reconstruction project is like the movie “What Lies Beneath.” It’s not a supernatural horror story, but included an extensive effort to confirm exactly where the village’s water and sewer lines and storm drains are located.

After that, the digging could start in a $21 million project to reconstruct Main Street.

The project has been on the state’s drawing board for decades, and was once scheduled for the early 1990s. But it didn’t begin until April.

Construction work is being done by J.A. McDonald, which handled construction of the $3.9 million roundabout at Routes 2 and 100. The federal government is paying 95 percent of the cost: $20,001,461. The Vermont state government is paying 3 percent: $631,625. The Waterbury town government is paying the remaining 2 percent, $421,083, drawing money from the town highway budget and from water and sewer revenues.

The project includes digging up the street and replacing aging water and sewer lines, some of which are 100 years old. While the street is opened up, workers will bury utility lines underground.

Other work includes new sidewalks, tree replacement, landscaping, informational kiosks, wayfinding signs, hanging flower baskets, flags and banners. 

The work covers a 1.1-mile stretch of Main Street, from the railroad bridge at the north end of the village to Demeritt Place on the south end.

“We’re approaching this so it is the least detrimental and least impactful to the community,” said Ken Upmal, project manager for the Agency of Transportation; he previously managed reconstruction of Main Street in Barre.

The project was broken into four phases: between the railroad bridge to Stowe Street; from Stowe Street to Park Row; from Park Row to Batchelder Street; and from Batchelder Street to Demeritt Place.

While driving has mostly been as smooth as anyone could hope in a project like this, parking has been another issue. Construction eliminated about 20 on-street parking spots, and people have had to find other alternatives.

Another issue has been water and electricity shutoffs, required periodically to switch connections from old to new. A warning system was developed to let people know when they’d likely lose town water, and when construction equipment might temporarily cut off access to driveways.

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