A million tonnes of rock that has remained inactive for nearly a hundred years after being cut in the heart of Hoosac Mountain to make its famous tunnel will be put to use.
Due to a relaxation in the state’s specifications for road stone, the massive Shaft Road pile in North Adams became eligible for use in asphalt and other types of paving.
Kenneth D. Conway of Pittsfield, owner of Western Massachusetts Asphalt & Stone Inc., and Tunnel Stone, today began crushing operations that will turn traprock and granite blocks into usable material.
“This should cut the cost of road stone in this region in half,” Conway said this morning.
He acquired the property some time ago from Williamstown contractor HD Moore, who used part of it for rock work.
Most of the stone was taken from the main shaft through a 90-foot vertical shaft during the long and bloody construction of the famous tunnel. After 24 years, spending $ 15,000,000 and the loss of 195 lives, the tunnel, four and three-quarters long, was finally opened in 1875.
The State Department of Public Works specifications for the pavement stone are based on the so-called “Los Angeles Rattler” test, in which the material to be tested is placed in a perforated “squirrel cage” and rotated at large. speed. The extent of abrasion is then measured.
Until May 23, when the specifications were relaxed, the stone for Massachusetts roads was expected to reach an index of 30 in the Los Angeles test. Few mineable rocks in this state could meet specifications, making importation necessary, according to Commissioner William F. Callahan. However, many state careers are able to meet a slightly lower standard while still meeting state and federal government requirements. The test minimum was therefore lowered to 25. According to Mr. Conway, the rock in the Hoosac tunnel has a test number of 28.
On Monday evening, the North Adams Zoning Appeal Board authorized Conway to erect a stone crushing plant on the Shaft Road property. The stone is located in an area zoned as residential.