COLCHESTER, Vt. -- Essex, Colchester and Milton residents are seeing significant benefits from a Brigham Hill and Mars Hollow Road Mitigation Project. The cooperative project was completed two years ago by the respective town highway departments. A grant from Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) covered 75% of the $95,245 cost. Nearly 30 families reside along these well-traveled roads.
During August and September of this year a series of severe storms hit the area. The town highway departments reported only minor damage to the Brigham Hill and Mars Hollow Roads. In previous years, annual municipal repair costs on the two roads exceeded $18,000.
The Brigham Hill and Mars Hollow Road project is expected to save the combined communities $144,000 over the next eight years.
Colchester Public Works Director Bryan Osborne said, "Where FEMA HMGP projects have been done, we never had to go back and make repairs. It is great there’s a program that targets, funds and repairs chronic problems and keeps our public transportation system functioning."
For the mitigation project, Essex supplied the engineering work and submitted the federal grant application on behalf of all three communities. Each town paid a share of the mitigation activities including the addition of stone lined ditches and larger culverts that included several high-density polyethylene pipes.
Essex Public Works Director Dennis Lutz commented that FEMA funded work on Brigham Hill Road demonstrated how to include effective mitigation during construction. Essex has since adopted local Codes and Standards for all roadwork. When extensive water damage occurred in August on Pettingill Road in Essex, his department quickly made repairs and installed stone ditching before federal staff had arrived. FEMA Public Assistance personnel have inspected the Pettingill Road work and the town will be reimbursed for the mitigation ditching and other work currently underway.
The adoption of the Codes and Standard, developed for local communities in an initiative by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, has been a great benefit to many cities and towns. Communities that have adopted and enforced these Codes and Standards have secured additional dollars in federal assistance that otherwise would not have been available.
With driveway runoff a source of limited damage in Essex, the Public Works department is initiating a public education program to inform homeowners how residents can prevent washouts on their private property and reduce damages to connecting town roads.
For additional information on repairing your driveway, contact Ray Doherty, the Vermont State Hazard Mitigation Officer at 802-241-5258.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.