NORTH ADAMS — After a long descent down Florida Mountain, the smell of burning brakes can permeate the air near the downtown intersections of Route 2.
Councilor Robert Moulton, Jr., and Mayor Richard Alcombright are working with the state Department of Transportation to better warn drivers about the steep nature of the drive west after they reach the Mohawk Trail's hairpin turn.
The Department of Transportation's regional staff, headquartered in Lenox, has been responsive to the city's requests and already have installed spots for two new signs on the Mohawk Trail, according to Alcombright.
"I thought this was going to be a big deal, [but] they agreed," Moulton said.
Moulton presented his plans to the City Council last month.
In his time with the North Adams Ambulance Service — where he now serves as president as its board of directors — Moulton said the descent has been a factor in several accidents, often with drivers who are traveling the route for the first time.
There are multiple warning signs leading down to the hairpin turn as drivers head west, but navigating the precarious curve is only half the battle, Moulton notes. The four miles from the hairpin turn west into the city's downtown also is a steep decline that can wear on a vehicle's brakes, specifically those of a truck.
"What I always thought was unusual is once you got the hairpin turn, come around that, there's no warnings by the state to warn truckers that you're only halfway down and have four miles to go," Moulton said.
Alcombright noted that the new signage on the trail, while providing better warning to drivers than the previous setup, will still be about 2.4 miles from the bottom. He intends to meet with Moulton, police officials, and DOT officials in person to see if further action can be taken in the coming weeks.
The state does not maintain Route 2 all the way into the city, and Moulton noted much of the descent falls within the city's responsibility.
"I think there should still be signage be put up by the city," Moulton said.
Alcombright also suggested the creation of a runaway truck ramp for truck drivers who sense that their brakes have gotten too hot and large orange arrows at a bend near the Eclipse Dam.
The council agreed to send Moulton's plans to the traffic commission for further review.
Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.