ADOT continues progress on US 89 landslide repairs

After completing six months of excavation, crews begin building new roadway

PHOENIX — Six months after extensive earthwork started on removing nearly one million cubic yards of rock material as part of the repairs of the US 89 landslide-damaged highway south of Page, the Arizona Department of Transportation is moving onto the final phase of the project to restore the highway.

Truck on US 89 as repair work beginsThe roadway suffered serious damage following a landslide on the early morning of Feb. 20, 2013 and has remained closed after a 500-foot section of roadway buckled in Echo Cliffs, two miles north of the US 89/US 89A junction near the community of Bitter Springs.

Since Aug. 11, 2014, crews have been conducting almost daily drilling and blasting operations in order to realign the roadway and construct a downslope rock buttress to stabilize the area.

Substantial work has been completed and crews started this week on building the foundation of a newly-realigned 1,500-foot section of US 89. Once the subgrade is finished, the roadway can then be paved.

With the completion of the earthwork and construction of the buttress, ADOT remains on target to reopen the highway prior to the busy summer tourism season in the Page/Lake Powell area.

The ultimate repair of US 89 is the final step in fulfilling ADOT’s three-pronged approach to the US 89 landslide incident, which included providing immediate emergency access, conducting a geotechnical investigation and restoring essential traffic to the area, which included paving US 89T (formerly Navajo Route 20), the short-term solution for motorists driving to and from Page since its completion in August 2013.

Prior to launching the $25 million project last summer, ADOT had to clear several hurdles to move the project forward.

After an extensive geotechnical investigation identified the necessary repairs in July 2013, ADOT retained an engineering design firm and developed plans for the eventual repair; finalized all federally required environmental reviews that include cultural, biological and water quality measures; and completed the plans for the required right-of-way easements.

ADOT, along with the Federal Highway Administration, Navajo Nation, Navajo Division of Transportation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, were able to expedite the environmental, utility and right-of-way clearance process, knowing the lack of a usable road between the Bitter Springs and Page communities is a hardship for many people.

The US 89 landslide repair project is eligible for reimbursement through the Federal Highway Administration’s emergency relief program, which provides funding to state and local agencies for the repair or reconstruction of highways, roads and bridges that are damaged in natural disasters and catastrophic failures.

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