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DOT: Richardson Hwy. appears stable after avalanches, flooding

Devin Kelly
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
An aerial survey shows how avalanches have damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The Alpine subdivision of Valdez is still on the lookout for possible flooding as a result of the avalanches at Mile 16 of the Richardson Highway on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the avalanche covering the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public FacilitiesAlaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Flooding debris and ice surround a Richardson Highway mile post sign on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The 4,000 residents of Valdez are cut off from the road system as a result of a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the scene where a natural avalanche and another avalanche triggered by blasting have covered the Richardson Highway and damned the Lowe River to create a lake on Monday morning, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
This photo provided by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities shows multiple avalanches that crossed the Richardson Highway in the Thompson Pass region of Valdez, Alaska, causing flooding. Alaska highway officials say the only highway into the city of 4,100 people will be closed until further notice, for at least a week, if not much longer.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities via AP
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the avalanche covering the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public FacilitiesAlaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the scene where an avalanche has damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The Alpine subdivision of Valdez is still on the lookout for possible flooding as a result of the avalanches at Mile 16 of the Richardson Highway on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the scene where a natural avalanche and another avalanche triggered by blasting have covered the Richardson Highway and damned the Lowe River to create a lake on Monday morning, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The Richardson Highway, near Mile 16, is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch, right, near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Skies finally cleared in Valdez, AK on Sunday, January 26, 2014, giving residents a full view of the major avalanches that occurred the previous day on Town Mountain.
Matt Kinney
The 4,000 residents of Valdez are cut off from the road system as a result of a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
This photo provided by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities shows multiple avalanches that crossed the Richardson Highway in the Thompson Pass region of Valdez, Alaska, causing flooding. Alaska highway officials say the only highway into the city of 4,100 people will be closed until further notice, for at least a week, if not much longer.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities via AP
The 4,000 residents of Valdez are cut off from the road system as a result of a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides spill off the mountain sides near the Richardson Highway at MP 42. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the scene where an avalanche has damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Photo by Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Robert Dunning, Valdez District Superintendent of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities inspects avalanche debris in Keystone Canyon Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides spill off the mountain sides near the Richardson Highway at MP 42. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Skies finally cleared in Valdez, AK on Sunday, January 26, 2014, giving residents a full view of the major avalanches that occurred the previous day on Town Mountain.
Matt Kinney
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo These slides covered the road and dammed the Lowe River in Keystone Canyon at MP 15.5. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
The Richardson Highway, near Mile 16, is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch, right, near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides spill off the mountain sides near the Richardson Highway at MP 42. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Robert Dunning, Valdez District Superintendent of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities inspects the Lowe River bridge in Keystone Canyon Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides cover a length of the Richardson Highway at MP 45 just south of Stuart Creek. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
The 4,000 residents of Valdez are cut off from the road system as a result of a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides spill off the mountain sides near the Richardson Highway at MP 42. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Lowe River water rushes out of the tunnel near the Keystone Canyon avalanche January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have also damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Photo by Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Robert Dunning, Valdez District Superintendent of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities inspects avalanche debris in Keystone Canyon Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo These slides covered the road and dammed the Lowe River in Keystone Canyon at MP 15.5. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
A helicopter surveys the scene where a natural avalanche and another avalanche triggered by blasting have covered the Richardson Highway and damned the Lowe River to create a lake on Monday morning, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The volume of water flowing through and old railroad tunnel in Keystone Canyon is slowing down as the flow waters covering the Richardson Highway recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides cover a length of the Richardson Highway at MP 45 just south of Stuart Creek. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Lowe River water rushes out of the tunnel near the Keystone Canyon avalanche January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
A helicopter surveys the scene where an avalanche has damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Robert Dunning, Valdez District Superintendent of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities inspects the Lowe River bridge in Keystone Canyon Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Lowe River water rushes out of the tunnel near the Keystone Canyon avalanche January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have also damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A front end loader is parked on the Richardson Highway near Mile 16 after having cleared some of the flooding debris on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF DOTPF personnel inspect the Lowe River bridges near the Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
A snow slide at Mile 39 is one of three smaller slides that have covered parts of the Richardson Highway in addition to two major avalanches that have buried the road in Keystone Canyon.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
A helicopter surveys the scene where a natural avalanche and another avalanche triggered by blasting have covered the Richardson Highway and damned the Lowe River to create a lake on Monday morning, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Flooding debris and ice surround a Richardson Highway mile post sign on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
An aerial survey shows how avalanches have damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Lowe River water rushes out of the tunnel near the Keystone Canyon avalanche January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
A helicopter surveys the scene where an avalanche has damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The volume of water flowing through and old railroad tunnel in Keystone Canyon is slowing down as the flow waters covering the Richardson Highway recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF DOTPF personnel inspect the Lowe River bridges near the Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
A snow slide at Mile 39 is one of three smaller slides that have covered parts of the Richardson Highway in addition to two major avalanches that have buried the road in Keystone Canyon.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A front end loader is parked on the Richardson Highway near Mile 16 after having cleared some of the flooding debris on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth

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.


By DEVIN KELLY
dkelly@adn.com