BECKET -- Motorists traveling the Massachusetts Turnpike on Thursday can expect traffic briefly coming to a halt due to blasting along the eastbound lane near Greenwater Pond.
A test blast of hazardous ledge scheduled for 1 p.m. will temporarily shut down both east and westbound lanes for about 15 minutes, according to state transportation officials.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that the test begins a project to blast tons of solid rock from the eastbound section of Interstate-90 in Becket. MassDOT noted in a statement that the blasting is intended to reduce any hazards related to falling rock or rock debris. Once the work is completed, workers will remove the temporary barriers erected to prevent vehicles from being hit by suddenly loose boulders.
The results of Thursday afternoon's test blast will be used to determine the intensity and frequency of future blasts later this year.
Drivers can expect additional 15-minute complete closures of the stretch of turnpike from both directions being planned during midday hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays into the early summer. Portal message boards will post the time of each blast, one day prior to the explosion, to help motorists plan their commutes.
MassDOT said state police will gradually slow traffic and bring it to a complete stop at a safe distance from the blasting zone. In the event of severe weather, blasting would be postponed.
MassDOT awarded the $2.3 million ledge removal contract to J.H. Maxymillian of Pittsfield in September.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.