ADA sidewalk project postponed
MONTPELIER — The sidewalk project at began Monday to bring the intersection of Elm, Court and School streets into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act has been put on hold.
City officials said Thursday that an unrelated safety issue arose. A brick wall of one of the buildings within the planned construction zone was found to be unsafe.
The project was approved by the state as one of seven accessibility projects statewide.
Assistant City Public Works Director Thomas J. McArdle said the project started on Monday as planned but had to be postponed as a precautionary step. Businesses and property owners adjoining the project were notified of the decision.
In a letter sent to the abutters and property owners near the intersection, McArdle wrote, “Soon after the project was begun, we were made aware of a potential public and contractor safety issue concerning an adjacent brick building housing the Uncommon Market.”
The market itself is part of the improvements, with interior access work planned by the project and the shop owner to make the entry accessible to people in wheelchairs.
What was discovered, McArdle explained, was that “the brick wall appeared to be pulling away from the structure and may come tumbling down,” at the site. “Upon notice, the private contractor removed equipment and immediately closed the public sidewalk as a precaution.”
McArdle noted that the city’s building inspector, the Vermont Department of Public Safety, the Montpelier Fire Department and the building’s owner have been notified of the situation. A structural engineer was brought in, and “it was determined that the brick exterior wall had partially detached from the building and separated from the underlying structure,” he stated. “From that inspection, the structural engineer reported that the wall is in imminent danger of at least a limited collapse and recommended the public sidewalk and parking lane remain closed with fall protection. The engineer further advised that any significant vibration from construction activities could trigger a collapse.”
He said protective measures were taken to protect pedestrians from falling bricks. The building in question is located at 3 School St., and is owned by Dwire Property Management, owned by Matt Dwire of Middlesex.
In addition to housing the Uncommon Market at street level, the building has apartments on its upper floors, said McArdle.
City officials are uncertain when the sidewalk contractor will be able to return to complete the sidewalk project, said McArdle.
“The building owner is now in the process of contacting commercial masons to undertake the repair work,” he said. Once that is complete, the city will issue a new schedule for the ADA sidewalk project.
“We are very hopeful the sidewalk project contractor will be able to return and finish the project as soon as the wall is repaired or stabilized,” McArdle said. “I do not know the building owner’s plans yet.”
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