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Washington Road Report 7/31-8/4 and ahead

TOWN OF WASHINGTON ROAD REPORT
through the week of 7/31 – 8/4 and out ahead
roads supervisor: AJ Galfetti
roads commissioner: Jesse Lambert
roadcrew: Elwin Chambers, Mike Tagliavia

Elwin Chambers returned and spent a good deal of the week out on the grader, bringing roads still a bit
ravaged and side-eroded from the early July damages back into shape. Roads addressed were as follows:
Macdonald, Carrier Extension, Turnpike, Woodchuck Hollow Extension and WCH proper, Coddington,
Doyle, and Pepper.

In the realm of FEMA repairs, further work on Macdonald Road was assessed, put out to bidding, and given
an initial FEMA-level fix. Jeff Moran repaired the culvert just up from Ed’s Repair Shop, and in the process
filled and packed the sinkhole at its inlet, and reset the headwall at its outlet end. (More on headwalls and
their importance to culverts in a future report.)

Otherwise, an array of projects were moved along through the required wickets of permitting, site evaluation,
and stream analysis, and closer to the stage of open public bidding.

A. Hydraulic studies were received back on Williamstown , Stellar, and Sky Acres roads, as well as the span
including the bridge on the southern part of Poor Farm Road, and the bridge at Johnson Lane as well. Some
nice details from a few of these reports, in case you wonder what sorts of things they involve, are pulled out
below:

1) Sky Acres Road
After analyzing the moderate drainage area (2.82 forested acres), channel morphology (straight with a
slight 3.3.% slope), and something called “bankfull width”–presumably the width at the top of the
banks–Petzoldt, White, and Ross notes that the current condition of the corrugated 6′ diameter pipe
is “not destroyed”. Nice, then, to see that despite this, they still assess that “this structure [i.e. the 6′
diameter corrugated metal pipe] is significantly undersized and should be replaced due to
the potential for repetitive damages.” To what extent FEMA will allow us to proceed with state
agency recommendations, rather than merely restoring preexistent conditions is something I’ll be
following up on with our eventual FEMA-assigned project manager.

A nice addition and term of art at in the general notes at the end, saying “it’s always desirable for a
new structure to have flared wingwalls, matched into the channel banks at the inlet and
outlet, to smoothly transition flow and protect the structure and roadway approaches from
erosion. (my italics)” These flared wingwalls appear in the the notes of all culvert inspections I’ve
seen thus far, and must gesture back to some host of studies or various monographs of culvert inlets
and outlets and how best to manage streamflow at these critical junctures. I wonder what problem
and what time-honored practices they are a response to? Ninety-degree turns? Or walls that function
more as an extension of the sides of the culvert, rather than an open gathering in of waters?

2) Williamstown Road
Tricky in this case, will be replacing the now caved in corrugated metal open bottom arch, due to the
ledge at the invert of the stream channel. Sitnik, and the River Management concentration of the
State Agency of Transportation, suggest two possible replacements: (1) go with the open-bottomed
arch again, but increase the dimensions from a clear span of 10 feet and height of 8.5′ to a clear span

more than doubled at 22 feet, and height at 9 feet; or (2) build a bridge or some other open bottom
rigid frame, with that same 22 foot clear span.

I note, again, the recommendation to not just go one size up, but to more than double the clear span
dimension. This reminds me of Billy Donovan’s question from the 7/27 selectboard meeting, where
he asked whether we are building back the same roads that couldn’t survive this storm, or are
rebuilding roads with a sense of the more frequent and severe future weather events to come. It
seems that in recommendations like these, at least in the isolated feature of a culvert, that our state
river engineers are focused on roads prepared for the latter.

(3) Stellar Road
Here, a granite slab bridge with clear span of 7′ and height of 5′; but “due to the July flooding, the
existing bridge abutments have failed from scour and movement of the laid-up stone,”
resulting in a structure that no longer meets the standards of VTrans Hydraulic Manual. The current
disrepair of the failed abutments has constricted the channel and increased the risk of future debris
blockage. Petzoldt, White, and Ross explain the consequences: “This complication is known to
cause ponding at the inlet, increase stream velocity and scour at the outlet, and may lead to
erosion and failure of channel banks.”

Their proposed solutions: (1) a concrete box structure
doubling the preexisting span from 7 to 14′ and increasing the height from 5 to 8′; or (2) a 14′ span x
6′ tall slab bridge, presumably in well-laid locally-quarried granite again.
Though all three roads are safe and passable for vehicle travel, the vulnerabilities the storm exposed and, in
some cases, increased, are part of both short term and long term repairs and rebuilds the town will need to
engage in.

B. Of the twenty or so roads that suffered moderate or major damage in the flooding events around July
10th, two roads, Notch and Stellar, were destroyed at a scale that potentially exceeds a $250k or more rebuild,
and involves stream and site complications that a civil engineering study and rebuild design would aid. On
Tuesday night, August 1st, AJ toured engineers around the wreckage of both those roads, as well as bridge
sites on the southern end of Poor Farm and at Johnson Lane, where possible assistance may also be needed.

The idea is to get these studies underway as soon as we can get FEMA clearance on procurement
requirements for this type of assistance, and, at least on Notch and Stellar, to have an engineering firm
shepherd these roads through permitting all the way up to open public bidding. The complete failure of the
pre-existing roads to hold at both sites is a compelling argument against rebuilding those same preexistent
structures, with only upsizing to try to counter the forces that so thoroughly overtook both. The thinking is
to pursue a sounder more-considered finished road that will take longer to construct in the short-term, but
which will stand a better chance of maintaining its integrity in future storms to come.

The urgency, even while taking this longer term perspective, to complete these roads before the snow flies is behind AJ being out after work on a Tuesday night touring engineers through the chasmed-out remains, and is evident already in the
responsiveness of those engineers in starting to take on a full and thorough assessment of all the relevant
particulars that the new roads will need to take account of.

Looking ahead to the week of 8/6 to 8/12
(1) The Macdonald Road culvert project, about a mile past Ed’s Repair Shop, is underway. Repairs due to the
early July storm should be finished by week’s end, and the already awarded grant funding that will pick up
from there should begin the following week. If you’re up that way, it’s worth taking a look at the size
differential between the preexisting culvert and the new one going in, and to look at the stone piles and try to
imagine in your mind the headwall that will be composed of them. Some pieces of especially good length are

there that should tie that wall back into the bank especially well. Weather-permitting, AJ thinks the project
could be completed in as little as two weeks.


(2) Our road crew is building. Under the guidance of AJ and Road Commissioner Jesse Lambert, a full crew
will be in place by August 21st. The plan is to start picking off the smaller FEMA permanent repairs with the
new well-qualified crew. You’re likely to see AJ and Jesse out helping out, too, where needed. And hard to
imagine a more opportune time for Elwin, with his skill and wealth of town road knowledge, back on the
routes, keeping an eye on the soft spots, the sides prone to washing out after a hard rain, and keeping the
main class twos in good summer-graded condition. I’ll try to catch up with Elwin, and Mike and Owen as well
to give a little look in to their specific jobs in future postings.


(3) In addition to continuing to collect documents, studies, permits, invoices, and load slips for each road site,
our work with FEMA should be heading into a new phase shortly. Our application for Public Assistance has
been submitted and is pending acceptance, and Sheila is working to get a rough picture estimate from the
VTrans representative that toured our most damaged roads in the early morning of the 17th, with her, AJ,
and our State Represenative, Carl Demrow.

A road report looking back at last week and forward to this one, coming by Friday. after that, will try to get these out regularly on
Tuesdays
Ben Tiefenthaler
FEMA administrator
ben.washingtonroads@gmail.com