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
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
We were proud to be part of the team. East Mountain Road is
Blair Enman, PE, and Nicole Kesselring, PE are engineers for
Enman ∙ Kesselring Consulting Engineers, in Rutland.