Vermont’s Tropical Storm Irene recovery project gets national award
The Vermont Agency of Transportation’s Tropical Storm Irene Recovery Project was recently named a 2012 Public Works Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association (APWA). The State of Vermont – Agency of Transportation, as the managing agency and the primary contractor, will be presented with the award during APWA’s 2012 International Public Works Congress & Exposition in Anaheim, California during August 26-29, 2012.
The APWA Public Works Projects of the Year awards are presented annually to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works projects, recognizing the alliance between the managing agency, contractor, consultant and their cooperative achievements. This year, APWA selected projects in five categories: Disaster/Emergency, Environment, Historical Restoration, Structures, and Transportation.
Awarded in the Disasters/Emergency Construction/Repair category at a cost of more than $75 million, the Vermont Agency of Transportation pulled off the unthinkable after the destructive force of Tropical Storm Irene ravaged the state with floodwaters at the end of August, 2011. Within 24 hours, the storm had dumped up to eight inches of rain, resulting in 700 homes destroyed, nearly 330 road segments closed on both the state and town roadway systems, 36 state highway bridges closed due to damage or destruction, along with many municipal structures, and 11 local communities without access to the road network and outside emergency services.
The agency quickly assembled an organizational structure that put the state’s transportation system back together in a remarkably short time given the magnitude of the destruction throughout the state. The project included monumental reconstruction efforts, ranging from the destruction of historic covered bridges to miles of state highway, without cutting corners on safety or the environment. Humanitarian aid was provided to thousands of people in cities and towns, who were cut off from services due to complete destruction or damaged transportation infrastructure.
At the end of the first thirty days following the storm, only six road segments remained closed (for thirteen miles) and six bridges. The last mile of Vermont roads rehabilitation on RT 107 took place on December 29, 2011, which was just 123 days after Tropical Storm Irene devastated the state. In addition, the Vermont-owned rail system’s repairs service restored all 107 washed-out areas and five of the six bridges damaged. The sixth bridge was opened in October, 2011. VTrans also worked with New England Central Railroad, whose mid-section was facing downed trees, washed-out track and knocked-down bridges.
Following the agency’s success, VTrans staff responded with a plan and desire to launch some important ventures such as the Accelerated Bridge Program, leading to the reorganization of the Structures Division, creation of a model Rail Infrastructure Asset Program and increased emphasis on the Infrastructure Asset Management Program, which is accomplished through expanded GIS and other technology.
The American Public Works Association (www.apwa.net) is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 28,500 members involved in the field of public works. APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy and the exchange of knowledge. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, has an office in Washington, D.C. and 63 chapters in North America.-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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