A meeting was held recently between representatives of MassHighway and the Office of the State Fire Marshal to discuss the MassHighway Policy Directive for blasting adjacent to state highways. Discussions focused on the implementation and review process of the policy, and under what conditions the policy should be implemented. A number of inquiries have been made to this office since this policy was announced through an advisory that was issued in January 2001. In response to those inquiries, the following clarification and guidance is provided for future instances where blasting is going to take place adjacent to a state highway. The safety of the motoring public on state highways remains the top priority.
MassHighway has suggested that the primary instances where the policy should be implemented would be for blasting directly on a state highway, blasting for "curb cuts" to a state highway, blasting within 250' of a divided or "limited access" highway. There is general agreement that these situations would be obvious and are instances where they desire to be contacted for review of the conditions to determine if their policy needs to be implemented as part of the blasting plan. Some of the more rural and less traveled state highways are roadways that seem to come to question most frequently. In these instances, as well as the ones mentioned above, the decision making starts at the local level between the head of the fire department and the blasting contractor. Common sense should prevail when determining the need to stop traffic on any roadway. Where the MassHighway Policy is not a regulatory requirement, the head of the fire department has a good deal of latitude and discretion when discussing traffic stoppage issues with the blasting contractor and the need to incorporate the MassHighway Policy into the blasting plan. The type of roadway, traffic flow and proximity of the blasting to the roadway will be important factors in determining whether a full traffic control plan should be implemented.
Should you need further assistance with this issue, please feel free to contact the Code Compliance and Enforcement Unit or Technical Services at 978-567-3300 or in Western MA, 413-587-3181.