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Assessing the damage to Vt roads and bridges - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Assessing the damage to Vt roads and bridges

Northfield, Vermont - August 29, 2011

"The flood we had a few months ago was bad but nothing like this. It's the worst I've ever seen," said Randy Farnsworth of Northfield Falls.

Farnsworth ventured out to witness the remnants of Hurricane Irene with his own eyes. In Northfield Falls, the storm sent trees crashing into this covered bridge. Residents could only look on in shock.

"Hopefully they can save it. It looks like it could be saved but it's going to take some work," Farnsworth said.

Raging flash floods left a wake of destruction along major state routes like 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 12 and 100. Flood waters tore roads apart and destroyed landmarks, like the historic covered bridge in Bartonsville. It was swept away.

"Well this is really an unprecedented event both the scale and the intensity of this storm as it went through Vermont," said Sue Minter of VTrans.

The storm forced the closure of 263 state and local roads and damaged or destroyed more than 25 state bridges. Transportation officials expect that number to rise as towns begin to report the impact on their communities. But state resources are already stretched to their limit and officials are now looking to Massachusetts for extra manpower, signage, barricades and temporary bridges.

"We are prioritizing. We know that there are over a dozen communities right now who are actually stranded. They are cut off from roadways, both ways. So that's our top priority, establishing linkages to cut off communities," Minter said.

VTrans is meeting every three hours to update its recovery strategy and highway crews are working around the clock shoring up roads and establishing detours. But everywhere they turn-- more devastation.

This is one of the more obvious examples of how flash flooding has undermined Vermont roads. But emergency management officials are urging folks not to bypass road closed signs because the state is still trying to get a handle on just how many roads may have been compromised.

"This is a serious, serious situation and we want Vermonters to take it seriously," Minter said.

Transportation officials are asking folks not to travel if you don't have to. Inspectors have not been able to get to many of the affected roads and simply cannot vouch for their safety. They're also asking Vermonters to be patient -- some roads with minor washouts will reopen in two to three days while others could take weeks. For the latest road closures you can call 511 or visit 511vt.com.

Jennifer Reading - WCAX News

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