Irene by the Numbers: Town Road, Bridge, and Culvert Damage in the Windham Region

See the bottom of this article for a link to a map showing damage in the Windham Region.

From the day after Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont, WRC has worked with towns to gather information about damage to their transportation infrastructure.  Though the following figures are only initial estimates—the real numbers will come to light after towns and FEMA have tallied the final damage costs—they offer insight into the magnitude of the storm and its impact on the Region.

113 major* town bridges and culverts damaged
(* bridges/culverts six feet or greater in length/diameter)
Over one hundred major stream crossings on town highways suffered some sort of damage, rom washed out bridge abutments or culvert headwalls, to major bridges completely destroyed, including one historic covered bridge. 

Over 40 major stream crossings closed on town roads 
A significant number of bridges and culverts greater than six feet were destroyed or damaged to the extent that they were closed for two weeks or more.  As of November 1, nearly two dozen remain closed, but at least half of these are scheduled to reopen—either due to repairs, installation of a temporary crossing, or a new bridge or culvert—by the end of the year.  As for the bridges and culverts that will remain closed through the winter, some require major construction that won’t start until next year, while others are on roads normally not open in the winter and are therefore not high priorities.  A few may never be reopened.

Roughly one hundred miles of town roads affected 
Town officials reported that approximately one hundred miles of roads were affected.  This includes everything from complete destruction of the road, to shoulder erosion, to the road being covered with debris.  Actual figures on the linear feet of roadway damaged is hard to come by; even though towns knew where their roads were damaged, their initial efforts were on fixing that damage, not precisely locating and measuring the extent of that damage.

More than one thousand culverts estimated to be affected  Each town has hundreds of small drainage culverts under their roads - usually a foot and a half diameter that carry rainfall runoff from one side of the road to the other.  In many cases, these culverts were simply plugged with sediment, scoured, or washed a short distance down hill.  Where the road was destroyed, the culverts were washed away completely or rendered unusable.  The estimate of over one thousand affected culverts comes from WRC comparing town reported road damage to culvert inventory data.

For a map of the road, bridge, and culvert damage in the Windham Region, click here.  Please note that this is not a road status map – it simply documents Irene-related damage.

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