Massachusetts flooding damages roads, bridges

News AASHTO Journal May 26, 2006
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Hundreds of roads and bridges were damaged over the past week as more than five days of rain inundated Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, ousting thousands from their homes.

What was termed the region's worst flooding in nearly 70 years, forced extensive evacuations and placed raw sewage in some rivers, the Associated Press reported. More than 12 in. of rain fell over the period in some areas.

"It seemed almost Biblical," Gov. Mitt Romney told ABC-TV's "Good Morning America." "We're sort of making jokes about Noah and taking two of each kind of animal because we haven't ever seen rain like this."

In Lowell, Mass., a thousand households were urged to leave their homes by crews announcing the evacuation from boats, using bullhorns.

More than 600 roads were reported destroyed, damaged or flooded out as a result of the rainfall, and in Maine dozens of roads and bridges were washed out. Two dams near the town of Lebanon also were considered in danger of failure, spurring local evacuations, and several hundred residents of Methuen, Mass., left their homes due to concerns a dam on the Spicket River might fail.

A dam on Pillsbury Lake in Webster, N.H., breached on Monday, releasing millions of gallons of water. Several families in the area were evacuated.

Elsewhere in Massachusetts, state police reported that Route 1 north of Boston was expected to remain closed for the Tuesday morning commute, and segments of highway between Route 16 in Revere and the interchange with Route 128 in Lynnfield were underwater.

In the Massachusetts city of Haverhill, burst pipes caused the Merrimack River to be tainted with 35 million gallons of raw sewage per day, and flooding at a regional treatment plant in Lawrence threatened a power shutoff, which would add another 115 million gallons of raw sewage into the same watershed. Romney said officials are concerned about the long-term effect of the sewage on downstream shellfish beds.

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