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For Immediate Release: 09/30/2011
CONTACT: Michael Verseckes

MassDOT Secretary Davey Announces Route 2 Repairs to Begin Next Week
Roadway expected to re-open by mid-December

FLORIDA – Friday, September 30, 2011 – Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey announced today that work to reconstruct the six-mile section of Route 2 devastated by Tropical Storm Irene will begin early next week.

The roadway linking the communities of North Adams, Florida, Savoy, and Charlemont suffered major damage from Tropical Storm Irene, and subsequent flooding, making it impassable to traffic.  Reconstruction is expected to cost $34.5 million and under an accelerated bidding process, work will begin early next week, with the roadway expected to re-open to traffic by mid-December. 

“Governor Patrick has been clear: reopening Route 2 is a top priority. We are working as quickly as possible to open the road again for safety and connectivity reasons, but also to reopen a popular area for tourism,” said Secretary Davey. “We understand the challenges this closure has caused, and we want to work as hard as we can to get this road re-opened in a fast and safe manner.”

Route 2 is a critical roadway for affected communities and businesses, connecting residents to key arteries including I-91 and to Albany, New York.

Tropical Storm Irene passed through western Massachusetts during the evening hours of Saturday, Aug. 27, and into the morning of Sunday, Aug. 28. While the storm’s power had been downgraded, it brought heavy rains to the area and to points north into Vermont. This caused significant flooding in areas around the Deerfield and Connecticut Rivers, rendering a six-mile stretch of Route 2 completely impassable.

Highway Administrator DePaola said the combination of roadway washout and substantial damage to retaining walls, and man-made slopes, will require an innovative approach to re-opening the road.

“What we’ll be doing is breaking down the repairs into separate jobs so that contractors can get out there and begin work simultaneously in order to get this road back open to traffic,” said Administrator DePaola. “Subsequent to that, we’ll be out there making more long-term fixes to help reinforce the various retaining walls and slopes so that this area will better withstand a large storm in the future.”

“I am encouraged that Route 2 repair work begins next week. Reopening the 6 mile stretch that is currently closed is a crucial step in rebuilding from Hurricane Irene," said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield). “Route 2 is heavily used by northern Berkshire and northwestern Franklin County residents, and with winter fast approaching we need this route safely restored. I applaud the Patrick Administration and DOT officials for their commitment to this project and for securing the $34.5 million necessary to complete the work.”

The work is being done under an expedited short-list bidding process, where designs were completed, bids were solicited, and contracts were signed in a span of three weeks. Two areas of slope repairs and road reconstruction in North Adams and Florida will begin immediately at a total cost of approximately $11.5 million. A third expedited contract will be put to bid on Monday, Oct. 3 with a notice to proceed expected to be issued by the following Monday, Oct. 10. This contract will be for reconstruction of Route 2 farther east in the towns of Savoy and Charlemont with an approximate cost of $7.5 million. A fourth contract will be bid under normal procurement procedures and will be for reconstruction of portions of retaining walls between Savoy and Charlemont, which can occur with the road re-opened to traffic. This is expected to cost $15.5 million. MassDOT will be pursuing federal reimbursement for costs associated with these repairs.

As a result of damage and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene, on September 3, 2011, President Obama issued a Major Disaster Declaration, making the state eligible for federal disaster aid to supplement recovery efforts in the areas struck by the tropical storm.

For more information about MassDOT and for transportation news and updates visit the MassDOT website at www.mass.gov/massdot, our blog at www.mass.gov/blog/transportation, or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot.