MILLBURN, N.J. — Hurricane Irene, which battered the Atlantic Coast of the United States at the end of August, caused significant damage to New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure, and caused serious impacts to drivers throughout the region. In Boonton, the northbound lanes of I-287, a major, six-lane highway, were closed due to severe embankment scour and roadway failure. After extreme weather events, an immediate and effective response is critical for minimizing impacts on the region’s citizens and economy. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), along with IEW Construction Group (Trenton, NJ) and Hatch Mott MacDonald (HMM), a Millburn, NJ-based engineering firm, immediately mobilized following Hurricane Irene to implement emergency repairs to this critical highway link.

In Boonton Township, N.J., the rising waters of the Rockaway River scoured away the embankment supporting northbound I-287, causing the failure of the shoulder pavement, and threatening the collapse of the travel lanes, thus forcing NJDOT to close a significant stretch of the major North/South highway that carries six lanes of traffic to and from New York. Within a matter of hours of being notified of the embankment failure, HMM mobilized to provide technical direction for IEW Construction Group, which has an Emergency Construction Services Contract with NJDOT. As a member of the IEW Construction Group’s team, HMM developed the repair procedure, detailing the embankment repair/roadway reconstruction, and provided technical direction for the field operations to bring the emergency construction project to completion. Thanks to IEW Construction Group and HMM’s quick and sustained response, NJDOT was able to reopen I-287 within three days, in time for Labor Day weekend’s high traffic volume.

NJDOT Section Chief Ahmad Ghorbani worked closely with IEW Construction Group’s vice president, Rob Tampellini, and the HMM staff to complete this critical reconstruction. “NJDOT was pleased with IEW Construction Group and HMM’s swift reaction to the embankment failure,” said Ghorbani. “The team’s well-organized and resourceful response enabled us to reopen this major interstate, which was critical for handling increased traffic volume during Labor Day weekend.”

Marco Levoyer, senior associate at HMM, led the firm’s response. “HMM’s expertise and knowledgeable staff enabled us to mobilize as soon as the damage was found to evaluate, plan, and provide construction oversight for the necessary repairs,” said Levoyer. “As a result of this quick response, commuters and travelers can now use I-287, relieving traffic from already congested alternative highways, which were also carrying detoured traffic from other storm-affected roadways throughout the region.”

Similar scenes have played out during the week following Irene’s visit, as utility crews, engineers, contractors, and state agency personnel put in long hours to restore the functioning of the region’s infrastructure. At Hatch Mott MacDonald alone, staff provided technical engineering assistance to repair an embankment along Route 29 in Hopewell, and a bridge on Route 22 in Bridgewater. Furthermore, in Jackson Township, HMM worked with Six Flags Great Adventure theme park to effect emergency repairs needed to restore a section of the park that was damaged due to a breach of a nearby dam. The repairs were promptly completed by the team of IEW Construction Group and HMM, allowing the park to reopen for the Labor Day weekend.