PROJECT OF THE YEAR - Disaster or Emergency Construction /Repair $5 Million but less than $25 Million


by the American Public Works Association

Hurricane Irene Repairs – Route 2

Managing Agency: MassDOT Highway Division
Primary Contractors: J.H. Maxymillian; Northern Construction;
E.T.& L. Corp.; R. Bates & Sons
Primary Consultant: MassDOT Highway Division, District 1
Nominated by: APWA New England Chapter

On August 28, 2011, Hurricane Irene moved up the East Coast. The floodwaters it brought caused extreme damage to Route 2 – the area’s major artery – in the towns of North Adams, Florida, Savoy, and Charlemont. Hurricane Irene damaged bridges, destabilized embankments, washed out roads, washed away riprap, and covered roads with dirt and storm debris. Damage was so sever in Florida, Savoy, and Charlemont, that Route 2 was closed immediately from mile marker 21.6 in Florida to mile marker 27.4 in Charlemont. Portions of Route 2 in North Adams were reduced to one lane and a temporary signal allowed alternating traffic.

MassDOT engineers mobilized immediately, assessing damage, designing repairs and developing emergency repair extra work orders. J.H. Maxymillian, the first contractor to start, began to clear the roadway while state personnel assessed the damage. Six weeks later, MassDOT had designed all of the repairs and contractors were working to stabilize and repair slopes, retaining walls and gabion walls. By mid-November, MassDOT also had advanced a bridge preservation project, expanding the scope of work to include slope repairs adjacent to the bridge. By December 15, just 110 days after the storm, all portions of Route 2 were reopened to traffic. MassDOT and the contractors had accomplished an incredible amount of work. In addition, MassDOT performed frequent public outreach activities to keep the public informed of road conditions and the construction schedule.

The most outstanding accomplishment of this project was its completion in such a short period of time. MassDOT accelerated the design of the repairs and the procurement to get crews started right away. The four teams worked around the clock as needed to get the work done as quickly as possible. Despite the existence of only a few access points, well over 100,000 cubic yards of fill and 30,000 tons of riprap were delivered and placed in just ten weeks. MassDOT and its contractors also completed the work on schedule despite an unusual October snowstorm that dumped two feet of heavy snow on the area.

MassDOT staff answered the call of duty to ensure quality materials and repairs, to work extended hours and weekends to perform testing, and to quickly turn around material approvals. Every effort was made to ensure that the work was not slowed down and the road was reopened as quickly as possible. MassDOT also worked with the contractors to use the best methods and materials to quickly provide high-quality, durable repairs. The team used prefabricated wall panel forms, which allowed for efficient construction of concrete retaining walls. MassDOT also worked with one contractor to develop project-specific plans for mortared riprap slopes which would provide the greatest constructability and best suit site conditions.

APWA Reporter    July 2012