MIDDLESEX (AP) - The state is embarking on the largest paving effort in its history, repairing 145 miles of highways on top of 230 miles of federally funded paving, after a tough winter that left roads riddled with potholes, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Friday.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation said it responded to nearly 100 winter storm events, with wintry weather stretching from the first storm in October into the spring. The state spent $28.5 million for winter maintenance, compared with an average of $20.6 million. The state also used 131,700 tons of salt, compared with the average of 87,500 tons, officials said.
"We, literally, this year, for the first time in the state's history, are going to be leveling and improving 375 miles of pavement and roadway that's been beat up so badly over the year," Shumlin said.
The additional 145 miles of roadways to be improved was made possible by a federal allocation in response to Tropical Storm Irene, the biggest natural disaster to hit Vermont in generations. The 2011 storm dumped up to 11 inches of rain, turned rivers into torrents and swept away homes, roads, bridges and farm fields.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders included a provision in the 2012 highway bill that will bring an additional $9 million to the state, $6 million of which will go to the paving effort.
Highway disaster rules were changed so states that suffer extreme disasters such as Irene are reimbursed for costs at 90 percent, rather than 80 percent, once they meet a certain threshold, Sanders said.
The state also will be adding four mobile units that will allow crews to repair potholes year-round.