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Cross Street Bridge set to open in October

The new Cross Street Bridge across Otter Creek in downtown Middlebury is nearly complete. Festivities to open the bridge, complete with a Independence Day-like fireworks display, are planned for late October.

The bridge project began in April 2009 amid much fanfare.

The new span was conceived as way to reduce traffic on the Battell Bridge as well as on the overstressed Pulp Mill Covered Bridge on the Middlebury-Weybridge townline. The historic 19th-century covered bridge will be closed next year for repairs; it will likely create its share of in-town traffic pretzels while under construction during the summer of 2011.

The two-way Cross Street Bridge will provide a third link across Otter Creek with its multi-use lanes and sidewalks that will accomodate motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. It will also give fire, police and emergency crews another route to and from the downtown area.

While officials assured voters that the Cross Street Bridge will reduce traffic volume on the remaining bridges in town, the span does not appear to be offer the final solution for Middlebury's increasingly congested downtown area.

Short of a bypass around the town-which appears unlikely, according to VTrans (see this week's story "Stimulus funds at work along U.S. Route 7")-increased U.S. Route 7 automotive and truck traffic will continue to bollocks up Middlebury's quaint downtown streets.

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