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Statewide, more than 500 miles of state highway and some 200 bridges sustained damage. Thirty-four state highway bridges were completely closed. Initially, 13 communities were isolated as all roads leading in and out of town were impassible.
Vermont’s railroad infrastructure also received significant damage. Immediately following the storm, more than 200 miles of state-owned rail were impassible, and six rail bridges were badly damaged. The privately run New England Central Railroad also received heavy damage, requiring repairs at 66 separate locations. Within three weeks of the storm, all rail lines were reopened.
Airports and public-transit facilities suffered some damage, albeit relatively minor. The Hartness Airport in Springfield sustained damage to three hazard beacons, while the Newport Airport sustained damage to its wind sock. Green Mountain Transit Agency’s Berlin office flooded, causing damage to 13 vehicles, some of which were totaled.
With transportation damage spread across more than 200 towns, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) quickly established three Incident Command Centers as a way to divide and organize repair efforts. Creating the command centers, which were strategically located based on where damage was heaviest, was a critical decision that greatly aided recovery response and resulted in VTrans conducting hundreds of millions of dollars in major roadway repairs in less than four months and reopening the entire state highway network in time for winter.
Tropical Storm Irene caused massive damage to Vermont’s road network and rail lines. On August 28, 2011, 146 State road segments and 34 bridges were closed for a total of 531 miles. VTrans quickly mobilized to establish safe detours, re-establish contact with communities isolated by road damage, worked closely with utilities to restore power and telephone service, and within 48 hours established three regional incident command centers in Dummerston, Rutland and Berlin to coordinate recovery efforts. This Tropical Storm Irene Presentation (PDF) prepared by the Agency of Transportation provides a complete overview with photos.
More than 700 VTrans workers were mobilized for recovery efforts with support from the Maine and New Hampshire Departments of Transportation, National Guard Units from Vermont and six other states and over 200 private contractors. By September 28, 2001, there were only six closed road segments totaling 13 miles and six closed bridges. On December 29, 2011, the “Last Mile” of work was completed on Route 107 between Bethel and Stockbridge. All State roads and bridges are now open.
VTrans is actively monitoring repairs throughout the winter and spring and stands ready with rapid response teams to deal with any new issues that may arise.
August 28, 2011
December 29, 2011
Damage to local roads throughout Vermont was substantial with 2,260 road segments damaged and 175 closed including 90 bridges. A total of 963 culverts were damaged. Vermont’s 11 regional planning commissions were charged with collecting damage assessments and facilitating the sharing of equipment, personnel and information. The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission offices served as the command center for damage reports at the height of the event. They continue to monitor the progress of repairs. As of December 21, 2011, 43 bridges and 21 road segments remain closed.
Local road closure report (PDF).
Along with approximately 700 VTrans employees that were assigned to Irene recovery tasks, many others helped, including:
Hundreds of National Guard Troops:
Department of Transportation (DOT) Partners:
Over 200 Private Contractors and Consultants. Approximately 1800 people from the private sector, primarily from Vermont.
By way of the storm itself and the recovery process, a lot of earth has moved and new issues may arise related to rights of way. Landowners near projects with questions should contact the Right of Way division at VTrans for assistance.
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