Recovery Report Shows Vermont Needs Longer Bridges

Green Mountain Outlook Rutland, VT. Dec. 21, 2011

Recovery Report Shows Vermont Needs Longer Bridges

MONTPELIER, VT.- Vermont has released a recovery report which revolves around the
state's recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. The report revealed that Vermont needs to consider building longer bridges in order to help stem the tide from swollen rivers, as well as encouraging the relocation of houses that are close to rivers and in potential danger of flooding.

Courtesy Photo

Last August, the Tropical Storm Irene destroyed some 200 bridges and over 500 miles of roads throughout the state, with still a great deal of recovery work remaining to be done. All of the recovery efforts are local, however, meaning a partnership between the state and local communities is essential to ensuring better re-building process.

The extensive report is broken down into several categories, including information on aid to residents effected by the storm, learning how to prepare for future disasters, assisting towns and cities currently in recovery, managing the environmental effects of the storm and making sure that the state's roads, bridges and railways are resuscitated.

The report also details policy changes that are needed for better safety moving forward. "Hazerdous waste and other things washed down the river, That is now something that the state can work on unilaterally," ongoing chief recovery officer Neale Lunderville stated at a recent Montpelier press conference, which also included Governor Peter Shumlin.

"It is a big question because there are a lot of businesses and homes along riverbanks. There are still, so many things we need to do all across the state to make Vermont stronger for the future."

It was also indicated that efforts are still not complete, as a sections of road in Bethel and Stockbridge were just re-opened last week. Improvements must also be made with cell phone service moving forward, as communications immediately after the storm spotty and many towns lack adequate coverage when landlines are down.

Additionally, more in-depth planning needs to be made in order to improve how volunteer efforts are utilized during a disaster, as well as creating a designated location for volunteers to meet and get information. In fact, Vermont Emergency management will soon be conducting a workshop on disaster response and managing volunteers. The report also suggest forming a special disaster council.

Vermont Agency of Transportation chief engineer , Rich Tetreault, stated in the report that the state needs to investigate building longer bridges with supports placed farther away from the edges of the river, in order to compensate for swelling rivers and floodwaters. He also suggests that individual towns re-access land use patterns to determine how far any construction should be from the river.

The report also indicated that some landowners are confused about what river alterations can be made without an authorization, needing a regulatory review and approval from a state environmental agency. Many landowners and towns are digging gravel from stream beds in order to
shore up river banks.

The state environmental agency was flooded out of its offices and as a result, many requests for assistance went without response, leaving many Vermonters uninformed about what types of work are authorized by state law.