Ice Jams Have Athol, Mass., Officials Monitoring River

Jan 15, 2018

The Exchange Street Bridge, in Athol, Mass., remains closed after a chunk of ice hit the bridge over the weekend. 

Athol Town Manager Shaun Suhoski said 11 of the 26 residents evacuated Saturday from a nearby housing complex returned home Monday afternoon.  

As for what happens next, he said it's up to Mother Nature and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Earlier Monday engineers opened two dams upstream to relieve water pressure.

“We've already seen the increase in flow happening downtown," Suhoski said.

He said it takes about five hours for water to migrate from the dam structures up stream.

“It's not [so] dramatic that you would see a tidal wave or tsunami,” he said, “but you do see a gradual increase in flow, velocity, and at this point we're monitoring the height and the ice.”

The flow was expected to taper down by 8 p.m. 

Suhoski said officials know the ice tore several steel fasteners from the bottom of the bridge. Those secure the town's water main. Massachusetts transportation officials and town authorities are scheduled to meet Tuesday morning.