NORTH ADAMS -- An international nonprofit has recognized the state Department of Transportation's emergency repairs to the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) following Tropical Storm Irene as one of its 2012 Public Works Project of the Year recipients.
The American Public Works Association, which has more that 28,500 members, will present the award to the MassDOT Highway Division-District 1 during its annual International Public Works Congress & Exposition in Anaheim, Calif., during the week of Aug. 26 to 29.
"This award is a great acknowledgment of the staff of our state highway department -- specifically those in District 1 -- and of the hard work they did in response to get this important roadway back into service," state Highway Administrator Frank DePaola said Wednesday.
MassDOT served as the managing agency for the $34.5 million project. MassDOT Highway District 1 served as the primary consultant, working with primary contractors JX Maxymillian Inc., Northern Construction, ET&L Corp., and R. Bates & Sons.
The APWA Public Works Projects of the Year awards are presented annually to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works projects, recognizing the alliance between the managing agency, contractor, consultant and their cooperative achievements. This year, APWA selected projects in five categories: disaster/emergency, environment, historical restoration, structures and transportation.
According to a release from the APWA, the local project, which repaired six miles of roadway from the city to Charlemont, was selected because of the state's quick response, which led to Route 2 reopening on Dec. 15, despite numerous obstacles including damaged bridges, destabilized embankments, washed out roads, washed away riprap and roads covered by landslides.
"It was an interesting endeavor," DePaola said. "It took a lot of cooperation from other state agencies -- Administration and Finance and the Inspector General -- to get this done. We were able to get the state's standard bidding process waived and the expedited permitting and bidding process approved."
He said once permission was granted, the District 1 staff was challenged with putting together the bid documents together in a short amount of time.
"We had to put together something for the contractors. Many of our staff members slept in the office as they worked around the clock to get the documents together," DePaola said. "Once we had the documents in place, we divided it into multiple projects so we could get the maximum number of work crews on the road. We then sent the documents to a selected group of five contractors, who had a week to respond."
On Sept. 31, just a month after Tropical Storm Irene battered Western Massachusetts, MassDOT announced work on restoring the vital segment of Route 2 would begin immediately, with the project being completed by Dec. 15.
"What really helped was that all of our contractors worked together along that road," DePaola said. "Most of them had two 8-hour shifts running."
The contractors even kept working during an unusual October snowstorm, which dumped some two feet of snow on their construction sites.
"They just plowed away the snow and kept working," DePaola said. "Most of these contractors are from either Western or Central Massachusetts. They had a personal investment and sense of responsibility in the restoration. They realized how important the project was to the communities. We also had the full support of the communities. No one complained."
He added, "It also had the full attention of the governor. The day after Irene hit, Gov. Deval Patrick called me into his office and asked how I was going to repair Route 2."
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email