Emergency Response: Tropical Storm Irene

Emergency Response: Tropical Storm Irene

August 2011: Tropical Storm Irene dumped record amounts of rain throughout New England. Vermont rivers crested to record highs and many vital transportation arteries were destroyed by flooding.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) promptly, contacted their on-call engineer, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB). VHB contacted GeoDesign and our Senior engineers rushed to storm damaged sites on Labor Day weekend. Multi-discipline teams fast tracked design solutions for the construction of slopes, highway, and rail bridges that had been destabilized, eroded, and, destroyed.

Solutions were developed on the spot in the field. Contractors and National Guard construction units began work immediately. GeoDesign, VTrans and VHB engineers “triaged” the sites to establish priorities.

Damage caused to the Vermont rail system, was devastating. Rail is the primary means to deliver fuel oil to the City of Burlington, Vermont’s metropolitan hub. Without rapid action, Burlington’s limited reserve and available highway transport systems simply would not be able to keep up with the demand.

VHB, VTrans, GeoDesign and contractors restored two railroad bridges. Both had major abutment scour damage, and were impassable. Within 10 days, trains were traveling again on either temporary or permanently repaired abutments on new foundation piling, abutment stems, backwalls, and approach slabs.

Material and equipment availability, access (many roads and bridges were closed), time and quality were key to each decision.

For more information, please refer to “The Northeast’s Emergency Response To Tropical Storm Irene” GeoNotes.

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