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State Workers 'Labored' All Weekend in Irene's Aftermath

September 6, 2011

CONCORD, N.H. - As Granite Staters head back to work after the Labor Day weekend, the weekend has been anything but "labor-free" for more than 1000 New Hampshire state employees. Crews have worked around the clock to restore roads and bridges throughout the state in the aftermath of tropical storm Irene.

Bill Boyton, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), says that last week there were more than 200 local roads and 55 state roads closed. He says northern New Hampshire suffered the most damage due to flooding.

"We have damage estimates of approximately $5.4 million on major roads in the northern part of the state. Essentially, the roads that were washed out significantly were near rivers or streams that just swelled rapidly and took out large sections of roads, and in one place a major bridge was compromised."

Boyton says the DOT has had calls from Canada and neighboring states to check on road conditions before people come to visit. He says they stress daily that New Hampshire is still open for business.

"New Hampshire relies very heavily on tourism, especially in the northern part of the state, where it's pretty much their prime economic benefit."

Boyton says significant DOT budget cuts and more than 250 lost positions have affected every division, and he expects new challenges as the snowy winter season approaches.

"We're even looking at winter maintenance operations and possibly rewriting our snow and ice policy to take a different look at how we maintain the roads during the wintertime, including some cutbacks during night-time hours on secondary roads."

Boyton says people from every DOT division, including geologists, right-of-way crews looking for easements, construction workers, bridge inspectors and maintenance crews have been on the job every day and night to help restore roads and bridges.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH