Department of Transportation officials announced Tuesday that several Northern Berkshire communities will receive aid from a $4.65 million Federal Highway Administration grant, including North Adams, Adams and Savoy.
MassDOT received the grant to cover the cost of emergency repairs undertaken after Tropical Storm Irene caused widespread damage to many state highways and byways in August.
"Many roadways in Western Massachusetts were damaged during Tropical Storm Irene," said MassDOT CEO Richard A. Davey. "This grant award is allowing MassDOT to reimburse the Commonwealth's most affected communities for their repair efforts."
Funds awarded locally include $115,000 to North Adams for West Shaft Road and State Street repairs; $120,000 to Adams for culvert repairs on East Road; and $22,000 to Savoy for slope repairs on Route 116.
"We have to thank Secretary Davey, Gov. Patrick and the local delegations for making sure these things happen in such an expedient way," said North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright. "Everything seems to have gone very well."
Some local government officials, however, are concerned by the time lag before grant funds grace the coffers of municipalities that have stretched their budgets to address repairs. In some cases, highway officials from the involved municipalities read the press release wondering when they would be contacted by MassDOT regarding the reimbursements.
"What has to happen is paperwork needs to be filed back and forth about what the damages specifically include," said Mike Verseckes, MassDOT spokesman. "We are in the process of reaching out to each of the affected communities, then we'll do more of the paperwork shuffle and resolve any other outstanding amounts. I don't want people to feel slighted if they haven't gotten a phone call yet. They will be getting one, and soon."
Verseckes added that relaying information to and from the Federal Highway Administration takes time and ensured local governments relying on federal funds that support is coming.
"We're not trying to hold anyone's feet to the fire here," Verseckes said, "but funds won't be transmitted on anything less than complete detail for record keeping purposes, and to make sure the right amounts are being allocated to the right places."
Verseckes comments agreed with Alcombright's assessment.
"My understanding is the paperwork is labor intensive, and the agencies I've dealt with have been extremely patient and helpful," Alcombright said. "Disaster paperwork is not something we do often, and we hope it stays that way for a very long time."