US 89 landslide repairs to begin later this month

US 89 landslide repairs to begin later this month

July 17, 2014

The truck to the left is capable of hauling about 23 cubic yards of material per load.

Try to visualize what one million cubic yards of rock and dirt amounts to…

That’s the quantity of material expected to be removed by crews as they work to repair US 89, the landslide-damaged highway just south of Page.

It’s hard to picture, isn’t it?

Help your imagination out by taking a look at the photo at right. We’re told these yellow trucks (the pickup truck on the right is there for scale) are capable of hauling about 23 cubic yards of material per load. So, with nearly one million cubic yards to move, it will take approximately 43,500 truckloads to finish the job … that’s a lot of rocks!

Work to start soon

Crews will begin moving those rocks very soon. The reconstruction of US 89 between Bitter Springs and Page is set to begin later this month. The State Transportation Board approved the $25 million project to repair the highway at their July 11 meeting in Cottonwood.

The roadway, which suffered catastrophic damage following a landslide on the early morning of Feb. 20, 2013, has remained closed after a 500-foot section of roadway buckled in Echo Cliffs, approximately 25 miles south of Page.

More about the necessary repairs

The project will include moving the roadway approximately 60 feet away from the landslide area toward Echo Cliffs and using rock material removed for the roadway realignment to construct a downslope buttress to stabilize the area.

The closed section of roadway is scheduled to reopen prior to next summer’s busy travel season. The construction contract will include a monetary incentive for the contractor if it is able to complete the project ahead of schedule.

Work on the project begins in a couple of weeks, but the major work is expected to start in late August when crews begin drilling and blasting operations to build the rock buttress.

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.

Last summer ADOT paved Navajo Route 20 (Temporary US 89), which was a mostly dirt road stretching from Bodaway-Gap to LeChee.

“Once a long-term solution was identified, ADOT worked diligently to complete all the federally required clearances needed prior to construction,” said Steve Boschen, ADOT deputy state engineer of project delivery. “This process can sometimes take years, but with help from many of our Navajo Nation partners, the Federal Highway Administration and other regulatory stakeholders, we are ready to begin the US 89 landslide repair.”

If you’ve been following along with us here on the blog, you’ll remember that ADOT has had several hurdles to clear up to this point. After an extensive geotechnical investigation identified the necessary repairs last summer, ADOT retained an engineering design firm and developed plans for the eventual repair. Following that, the team finalized all federally required environmental reviews that include cultural, biological and water quality measures, completed the plans for the required right-of-way easements, and finalized negotiations with the contractor.

The final step prior to last week’s board approval was completing negotiations on a guaranteed maximum price for the project construction with FNF Construction, the same contractor that completed the paving of US 89T.

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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