NORTH ADAMS -- A water main break on Cliff Street kept city workers busy through the Wednesday holiday, as they toiled to return service to the as many as 600 homes affected during the break's peak.
Mayor Richard Alcombright received word of the break at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the beginning of what would become a difficult process of trial-and-error to find a solution -- and for workers, a holiday spent in literal trenches.
Commissioner of Public Services Timothy Lescarbeau was at the end of a 24-hour shift at 5 p.m. on Wednesday when he reported that water would likely be available in the remaining 100 to 150 affected homes within two hours.
"We have a saying down at Public Services: Every day ends in ‘Y,' so they're all the same to us," Lescarbeau said.
The all-night crew of workers comprised Lescarbeau; Paul Markland, manager of the North Adams Highway Department; Donald Rounds, water and sewer foreman; Russell Fortini; and Glenn Robert.
At 5 p.m. Wednesday, workers had exposed the site of the break, removed the broken main and were preparing to lower in a new replacement.
According to Lescarbeau, the main blew out due to old age and rust. Affected locations included Cliff and Charlene streets and portions of Franklin Street.
Lescarbeau said the fix was complicated by a lack of detailed mapping of the section where the break occurred, due to the property's previous private ownership. Workers
"It's been a brutal fix," said Alcombright, who visited the site on-and-off throughout the affair. "We had everybody there with every single bit of experience you'd want, but it was like trying to fix a drainpipe while the water's running in the sink above it."
Alcombright went on to praise the efforts of workers.
"They're just real troopers," Alcombright said Wednesday night. "I think they enjoy the challenge."
Alcombright said repairs included a focused effort to restore water, even in reduced capacity, to North Adams Commons Nursing Home and Franklin Court Apartments, where many elderly tenants reside.
Williamstown Department of Public Works and Berkshire County Construction contributed equipment to help fix the break, and Lescarbeau said many city residents also visited the site.
"These are sometimes thankless jobs, and to have citizens stopping by to say thank you or drop off coffee and donuts, it means a lot to us," he said.
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