AUGUSTA — This morning 149 Maine Department of Transportation workers, armed with dump trucks, bucket loaders, excavators and other equipment, are on their way to Vermont to help rebuild roads ravaged by Tropical Storm Irene.

Several crews departed from the Augusta Civic Center this morning, while others left from staging areas in Scarborough and Plymouth.

“What it comes down to is, we’re Mainers,” said Don Hutchins, of Canton, director of fleet services for MDOT, who just returned from a trip to Vermont as part of an advance team scouting out areas where Maine crews will be working. “When it’s needed, we lend a hand and help out to the best of our ability.”

Vermont officials asked for help repairing that state’s storm-damaged roads and bridges Friday. Maine officials expect the cost of the relief effort will be reimbursed from federal emergency relief funds administered through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

Crews will stay in hotels during the work and are expected to stay for two weeks. They’ll be paid for their working time – but not for their off-duty time in Vermont, according to Mike Burns, of Winthrop, regional manager for DOT. Burns said Vermont asked for four weeks of help, and said other workers would be rotated in after the initial two-week period.

Maine will send 145 vehicles in all. As of Sunday, Vermont still had 18 bridges closed and over 200 miles of roads that were damaged or closed due to Tropical Storm Irene.