Rock slide forces North Adams road closure

Editor's note: This story was updated on April 16, 2014 to correct Timothy Lescarbeau's title. Lescarbeau is the Commissioner of Public Services, not the Department of Public Works Commissioner.

NORTH ADAMS -- A rock slide and fears of more falling debris prompted city officials to shut down Route 8 near the Clarksburg border Tuesday.

Around 6 a.m., heavy rain dislodged the stones, which were held up in their descent by Jersey barriers installed along this particular section of the highway, known as Beaver Street and located north of Bluff Road.

A city work crew removed the stones, but the road remained closed through Tuesday and until further notice. Traffic on the well-used connector to Vermont was detoured.

"We're concerned the rest of [the bluff] might come down," Commissioner of Public Services Timothy Lescarbeau said. "There's one piece about the size of a small car that looks like it could go."

Geologists called out from Boston are expected to observe the bluff today to "evaluate the situation and advise accordingly," reported North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Lescarbeau said he expects to reopen the road today, perhaps in a one lane capacity.

Tuesday's rock slide came amid a day of heavy rain, with most of the Berkshires seeing close to 1 1/2 inches of fall.

The rain added volume to local rivers already swollen with snowmelt after a relatively heavy winter. Lescarbeau and other local highway departments saw potential for flooding Tuesday night.

The National Weather Service's office in Albany, N.Y., expected precipitation in the Berkshires to taper off around 1 a.m. today.

"We're seeing high pressure into the [Berkshire area] and cooler temperatures over the next several days," meteorologist Vasil Koleci said. "Highs will be only in the low- to mid-40s. It's a pretty big temperature change after the warm weekend."

Koleci said the office was predicting worse flooding in the Adirondack region and north of Lake George, because a more substantial snowpack existed in these areas.

To reach Phil Demers:
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