Vermont's Top Priority In Wake of Irene: Road Rebuilding

While the photos of the flooded towns in New England captivated our attention, it is the devastation to the roads and bridges that has become the priority in the rebuilding effort - as they must be repaired or replaced to allow relief and rebuilding.
September 5, 2011, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Roads and bridges are to rural New England what transit is to New York City - they provide the backbone for all the towns and hamlets that were hard-hit by Hurricane Irene. To complicate matters, Vermont's Agency of Transportation must rebuild, repair, or replace the damaged road infrastructure before winter's snow and frost arrives - in about two and half months, as the ground freezes, thus making construction very difficult.

"Of all the challenges facing Vermont as it tries to recover from the floods caused by the remnants of Hurricane Irene, there may be none more daunting - or vital to solve - than repairing and reopening the hundreds of roads and dozens of bridges that the storm knocked out. In many spots, the roads must be fixed before equipment can be brought in to repair everything from homes and businesses to the power grid, railroad tracks and water and wastewater systems."

"Faced with so much devastation, state officials are taking a triage approach. The first order of business was restoring access to 13 towns that were isolated when the roads and bridges were washed out. They did this by building what state officials call "goat paths," pouring gravel and sand and storm debris onto washed-out roads, and flattening them until they were strong enough for emergency vehicles to get over them."

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Published on Saturday, September 3, 2011 in The New York Times - U.S.
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