The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 24, 2014

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East Mountain Road— In the days after Irene; the engineer’s perspective

We arrived in Killington in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, to meet with Town Manager Kathleen Ramsey, Road Foreman Ken Merrill, and Jennifer Conley a local transportation engineer. Town Planner Dick Horner picked us up at the end of Journey's End after we hiked through the path from Helvi Hill Rd.

We were tasked with assessing drainage structures so that roadway reconstruction could commence as quickly as possible.

Roadways all over town were destroyed, but due to the magnitude of damage on East Mountain Road, and the implications of not having this road passable for the winter, East Mountain Road became one of the highest priorities.

In total, greater than 40 culverts, along a 2.25 mile section of roadway, were gone, crushed, filled with debris, branches, silt, sand and gravel, and were useless. Some culverts were in the woods, mangled in trees, down-gradient of their former homes. Along this steep winding roadway, Irene had turned roadside ditches into deep eroded gullies, some 5 to 8 feet deep, and left little more than a ribbon of pavement in her wake, barely passable by one car in places. Along the edges of the roadway, where the pavement had been undermined, the pavement had the appearance of ribbon candy, rippled up and down.

Prior to our arrival the locations of destroyed culverts had been inventoried by Steve Durkee, a local developer. Steve's construction crews were already on the ground, moving debris and gravel, and beginning the clean up efforts. When possible, trucks hauled gravel from the stream-beds along Rt. 4, up the hill in off-road haul trucks.

There was no time for full engineering if the road was to be reopened for winter. We hit the ground running with our field equipment and "Yankee engineering" to begin our task of detailing field characteristics necessary to size replacement culverts. We are engineers and that was the reason we were there. Climbing over culverts, through the woods, into ravines, over ditches, through washed out roadways, broken pavement and scattered guardrail, we underwent our tasks. Glamorous work no, but this was necessary for the town to rebuild.

Once back at the office we began assessing drainage areas of each culvert, and within days began providing the Town with lists of culverts to order.

As we inventoried damage and culverts along East Mountain Road, we also inventoried the side roads. These included Ledge End Rd., and Rim Roads down-gradient  of East Mountain, and Trailside and Trailview, up-gradient of East Mountain. Side roads sustained similar damage, since the water either came from these side roads, or hit them after crossing East Mountain Road.  Trailside Drive and Rim Road sustained 10 ft deep gullies and total roadway wash-away in other places. The water from Trailside Drive had ripped across East Mountain Road adding to the damage below their intersection.

As several culverts failed on East Mountain the water concentrated and raged downstream to Ledge End Rd. first, then on to Rim, destroying the drainage structures in both roads. Neither road was passable.

In the days following Irene, through the hard work of many, the culverts were ordered, installed, the ditches filled, and eventually the roadway paved. Where we encountered stranded individuals and families along the way, they were appreciative to see people working to bring their lives back together. We even encountered the occasional tourist following their GPS unit to the Grand Hotel. They turned around.

Travel all of these roads today, and you'll see rock lined channels in place of previously existing earthen channel, and larger culverts than before.  If you peer over the bank in the downhill direction there still remains boulders, trees, and debris that the storm carried along and deposited there. These areas are forever changed.

We were proud to be part of the team. East Mountain Road is again open. 

Blair Enman, PE, and Nicole Kesselring, PE are engineers for Enman ∙ Kesselring Consulting Engineers, in Rutland.


Tagged: Hurricane Irene, Enman Kesselring Consulting Engineers