Hurricane Irene struck the Northeastern U.S. some three months ago and cost the state of Vermont between $175 and $250 million -- but you wouldn't know it from driving through the state today. That's because, as The New York Times reports, "the state repaired and reopened some 500 miles of damaged road, replaced a dozen bridges with temporary structures and repaired about 200 altogether" in the exactly 100 days between today and August 28, when Irene made landfall in New York. "If you’ve ever wanted to see a shining example of turning tragedy into opportunity and getting tough things done, you’re seeing it in Vermont," Gov. Peter Shumlin gloats. The Times finds lessons for the federal government in those five hundred miles of relatively quickly repaired roads:
While many Americans have come to wonder whether the nation has lost the ability to fix its ailing infrastructure or do big things, “they haven’t been to Vermont,” said Megan Smith, the state’s commissioner of tourism and marketing.
But Vermont had an economic imperative that the U.S. as a whole doesn't: Ski season. Without a well-functioning highway system running through the snow-covered Green Mountain State this winter, Vermont would lose millions in tourist dollars. State officials tell the Burlington Free Press that "Vermont’s roads will be plowed and sanded pretty much as usual this winter." Skiing wasn't the only consideration. The state made sure that 84 of the initially 118 closed roads were open a month after the storm, says The Times, so visitors could still check out its famous fall foliage.