You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

Region scrambles to make repairs to storm-damaged roads, structures

- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2011

The damage from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee is being assessed across the region, as officials prepare to repair and pay for washed-out roads, collapsed bridges and a government building that was soaked in 3 feet of water.

On Monday, employees wearing white face masks carried boxes of documents from the Prince George's County Administration Building, in Upper Marlboro, which had been closed since Thursday.

Generators were providing power to phones and computer equipment inside the building, which was scheduled to reopen Tuesday.

Officials said they still have no cost estimate on the damage, in part because the water just receded Friday, but the county's commercial property insurance ranges from $5 million to $50 million, county spokesman Scott Peterson said.

The closure has already caused headaches for residents, including a Takoma Park civil engineer who on Monday could not get copies of deeds for a project. A visibly upset woman stormed off the property in a champagne gown after learning no civil ceremonies were being performed.

The elevators and air conditioning were to be operational on Monday, said Bradford Seamon, the deputy chief administrative officer for budget, finance and administration. And the next steps were fumigation and moving the furniture in the lower level so that every wall socket could be checked.

"The building's been here since 1977 and this has never happened," he said. "In hindsight if we knew what we know now, we'd do a number of things differently."

Mr. Seamon expects the county will be eligible for federal and state money to help with the repairs.

In Virginia, state Department of Transportation officials also are looking for financial help to cover as much as $10 million in Fairfax County bridge repairs.

"We would be applying for that at the right time," said agency spokeswoman Joan Morris of the federal emergency declaration given to Hurricane Irene for Virginia, Masschusetts and New York.

The three bridges are near Lorton, Great Falls Park and McLean and carry a combined total of 8,050 vehicles a day.

Ms. Morris said building temporary replacements for each would take six weeks to two months.

She said six roads across the county remained closed through Sunday.

However, no road damage had been reported in Alexandria, where on Thursday sections of the Capital Beltway were closed and emergency evacuations were ordered in the Cameron Run and Huntington areas.

Maryland had several main roads shut down for high water, said David Buck, Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman.

However, Route 301 in La Plata will be closed for several weeks, until a 20-foot by 20-foot hole caused by a pipe failure can be covered. A section of Route 234 also collapsed near Allens Fresh Run, Mr. Buck said.

Along Route 381, east of Crain Highway, repairs could take two to three weeks.

All manner of flotsam was reported floating past the Bay Bridge as the Chesapeake Bay began taking in the excess waters from the swollen Susquehanna River, which displaced thousands of New York residents when it crested last week, according to The Associated Press.

Despite a Wednesday rush hour that ground to a halt from standing water, the District faired well, the city's Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle said.

"We had a lot of trees down in the hurricane and with the flooding there were a few more trees that came down because the ground was so saturated," Mr. Lisle said, "but for whatever reason we did not seem to have those [flooding] issues in the District."

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.