20210721-LOC-River Road

Members of the Hinsdale Highway Department assess the damage Tuesday afternoon caused by erosion of the river bank along River Road in Hinsdale. The street, which runs along the Ashuelot River, is closed to traffic except for residents until repairs can be made.

HINSDALE — Declaring the road “unsafe for travel,” the Hinsdale Highway Department closed River Road Tuesday to all but residents because of two washouts.

Rising water in the Ashuelot River undermined the river bank, causing significant damage between 94 and 147 River Road. This area is blocked entirely until repairs can be made.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, the Hinsdale Police Department urged people to “stay away from areas around the river where the ground underneath may be washed out.”

Highway Superintendent Bob Truesdell, speaking from the scene Tuesday afternoon, said the washouts “don’t look like much, but it’s a pretty big deal.” If the river embankment erodes further, he said, trees could fall, hitting power lines and possibly the home at 94 River Road. The water line, which runs along the river side of the road, could be compromised, as well, he said.

The house at 147 River Road, the site of the smaller of the two washouts, appeared to be in no danger, he said. That washout, which measures about 100 feet long, was reported Monday night, Truesdell said.

He discovered the second washout, between 94 River Road and the town public works building, on his way to work at 6 a.m. Tuesday. It measures about 200 feet, he estimates.

Truesdell said he hasn’t seen the river this high since the flood of 2005, which forced the evacuation of Canal Street residents and destroyed a 250-foot section of Route 119, according to reports in The Sentinel at the time.

Truesdell said he’s hoping tree removal and shoring up the river bank with rocks can begin today. The road closure did not affect the town’s residential trash-collection service.