DOT: Richardson Hwy. appears stable after avalanches, flooding

dkelly@adn.comFebruary 1, 2014 

Alaska highway officials said Saturday the process of snow removal from the avalanche-blocked Richardson Highway was progressing well, and the roadbed appears to be in good condition.

The series of massive avalanches on Jan. 24 dammed the Lowe River in Keystone Canyon near Mile 12, creating a lake that delayed crews' access to the area for a week.

On Friday, when snow removal finally began, crews brought in a device referred to as a "thumper" to check water saturation beneath the road, said Jeremy Woodrow, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. He said the tests showed the roadbed is stable and in good condition.

Officials said Friday it would take between three and five days to clear the snow, but Woodrow said people shouldn't expect the roadway to reopen immediately. The road was still closed Saturday between Mileposts 12 and 18.

"We're hoping there wasn't any major damage to the road itself," Woodrow said, adding that crews will continue monitoring the road during the removal operations.

Snow was piled more than 40 feet high on up to 1,500 feet of the highway.

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