The portion of Route 4 in Washington County hit by a massive rockslide last month will be closed for the next two weeks while more dangerous rock is blasted away, the state Department of Transportation has decided.
The highway will be closed between Kelsey Pond Lane and Route 22 in Comstock from Friday until Dec. 14. Contractors will be removing more rock from the slope that was involved in the Oct. 15 rock slide.
DOT expects the road will be reopened to one lane alternating traffic from Dec. 14 to 21, and then to be fully reopened.
The road needs to be closed for blasting, and officials decided it made more sense to close it entirely for two weeks rather than to just close it intermittently when blasting occurs.
“It’s much more efficient, and it will cost less to do it this way,” said DOT spokesman Bryan Viggiani.
The three weeks of intensive work should lead to the road being reopened before Christmas and the start of ski season in Vermont, Viggiani said. Route 4 is one of the main routes to central Vermont ski areas.
The road was closed for three days after the Oct. 15 rock collapse, which sent house-size boulders crashing without warning onto the highway, covering about 200 feet of the road. There were no injuries, though initial concerns a vehicle might be missing prompted a huge emergency response.
Geologists determined the rock face had been made unstable by water buildup over many years, and rains the weekend before the collapse contributed.
Since the road was reopened the following Wednesday, there have been several single-lane closures while the initial cleanup was finished, damaged pavement was replaced and contractors built an access road up onto the cliff face. Viggiani said geologists have recommended removing roughly six times the 1,000 cubic yards that fell in the initial slide.
“There will be a significant amount of rock removed,” Viggiani said. “It’s precautionary and preventative.”
The work will be done by Reale Construction of Ticonderoga under the original emergency cleanup contract, Viggiani said. The total cost is expected to be under $1 million, he said.
During the closure, detour signs will direct traffic onto routes 22, 40 and 149, a total detour of 21 miles. An alternate detour for passenger vehicles only is available at www.511NY.org.
Route 4 carries 8,000 to 9,000 vehicles per day between Vermont and the Hudson Falls area, with studies showing it has a higher-than-average percentage of heavy commercial trucks.